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LadyM’s Book Club | Are you on the list? Feat Olivia Cox

To continue our book club launch week, we continue delving into the fabulous guide to becoming a modern socialite, “Are you on the list?”. The book is a collection of pieces by London’s top socialites, Kitty Brucknell, Olivia Cox and Lewis-Duncan Weedon.

Are you on the list?

Earlier in the week we had an extract from Kitty, all about fashion and being fabulous, not caring what others think and having your own style. Today we have an extract from TV Presenter and Blogger, Olivia Cox, on how to converse with style. If you are always a little tongue-tied at events, or often struggle with how to get a conversation going when having to engage in small talk, then Olivia has some great words of advice.

Are you on the list?

My working hours as a TV presenter are pretty irregular and I tend to end up being ‘on show’ from very early to very late. Whether it’s actually filming, having breakfast with a brand’s PR, going for screen tests and castings or attending events, I always have to be on my best behaviour and, when possible, absolutely charming. This means I am often brutally tired and just a bit bored of talking when the time comes for making small talk. Disaster!

Are you on the list? Olivia Cox

However, I have overcome this by having a few stock questions that I keep as back-ups, ready to launch with when the conversation might be dying a bit. My top tip? When I’m presenting, I’ve found that the best way to get 
a guest to open up and relax when they’re talking to me is by flirting with them a little bit. And this applies to regular situations, too. Nothing too outrageous or it’ll get awkward – just make them feel a bit special. So if all else fails, compliment the hell out of them and they are likely to feel so flattered that they won’t notice any lack of sincerity (although obviously you should try your best to sound like you mean it!).

Conversation Starters

  • ‘Love this place, it’s so cool!’ – The modern version of ‘do you come here often?’ So much less sleazy, and way more likely to elicit a normal, friendly response.
  • ‘So how do you know (insert host’s name / the brand / etc.)?’
  • ‘Have you tried the cocktails? Lethal!’
  • ‘So how is the (new job / uni course / relationship) going?’ – Obviously this requires you to know a little about them first. But basically the idea is to get them talking about themselves. And breathe!
  • ‘Have you heard (elicit some form of exciting info interesting to both of you here)’ – Don’t gossip though, as no on likes a tell-tale. Give them a nugget of information. If they already know, bingo: you can discuss. If they don’t, they’ll hang on your every word until you’re 
finished. Then they will probably try to retaliate with something equally exciting.

Note: At this point, if they aren’t asking questions back, walk away. They are clearly not worth your small talk prowess and deserve to be stood on their own.

For more tips and tricks on how to make the best first impression and become a modern socialite, check out the book Are you on the List? by Kitty Brucknell, Olivia Cox and Lewis-Duncan Weedon.

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