Dos & Don’ts for a great table conversation (video & podcast)

Tonight Umbert is invited to an amazing dinner at Ducasse sur Seine.

Other guests will be some friends but also famous people from the arts and business Parisian scene.

What are the Dos & Don’ts for a great table conversation ?

Umbert gives you the basics so you won’t have a bad experience at your next party. The more you practice, the better you will be.

Benefits of this coaching :

  • Best methodology to become irresistible
  • Innovative technique to unleash your charisma
  • Learn the new etiquette & manners
  • A better lifestyle

« During a conversation, be sure to not have the last word, the first. », Sacha Guitry, French actor

“Dans la conversation, gardez-vous bien d’avoir le dernier mot, le premier.”, Sacha Guitry, acteur Français

In this article :

1) General rules

2) Do not monopolize the conversation

3) Do not be “hypochondriac”

4)Topics to avoid

5) The problem of the « silent” person

6) When can you talk & what can you say

1) General rules

When speaking, just bend your head in the direction of the other person, and not your shoulders, to not turn your back to the other neighbor.

Share your conversation equally between your neighbors on the right and on the left.

Men, besides serving wine, must also speak to their female neighbors.

Try to find out what topics interest them and ask questions. Great speakers open their mind and the conversation. They open the door.

If your neighbors do not speak to you, do not show your boredom (think of your weekend!). If the situation becomes troublesome, ask them with a smile.

Do not argue with a guest at the other end of the table.

Never interrupt, except if the other is rudeness or vulgar. On the opposite, always listen a lot, you will learn something for sure, and the other will feel listened.

Do not say what has to be done or not done. You can argue, but always consider the other point of view.

Do not gossip or criticize on anyone.

Congratulate the hostess for her amazing party.

Warning: if you make a mistake, if the other guests feel offended, this could ruin the party.

2) Do not monopolize the conversation

Whoever speaks only of his work, in addition with technical terms, can quickly become boring. Try to tell a funny anecdote instead.

The sports enthusiast: do not comment on your 18 holes of golf in front of non players.

If this happens, the host must react at the right time, by skillfully hooking up a more general topic : eg Rugby ⇒ travel.

The “Me, I”: The one who interrupts all the time by “me-I”. The host must react and after a while return to the one that was cut “Charles do not finish, tell us Charles stp”.

3) Do not be “hypochondriac”

This is hell for the one who has asked for your news, and for those who are hearing the details of your treatments and operations.

The host must quickly reorient it. Example: “François, you look great, how was your last vacation?”

4) Topics to avoid




The recipe: Shut up or moderate your opinions.

Disagreements can appear. Always start to calm down, listen to the other, agree with him in a way, and tell your argument with moderation.

5) The problem of the « silent” person

If you do not like talking or if you feel strange in this dinner:

Make a very big effort to find a general subject or compliment the hostess.

If necessary, prepare some discussion topics in advance.

6) When can you talk & what can you say

Yes, knowing how to express yourself is an art.

During a dinner, do not monopolize the conversation. It must be an exchange.

You must never interupt.

If you are shy, and someone asks you some questions or invites you to express yourself: go ahead and answer.

If you have to make a speech:

  • Prepare your speech. You’ll feel more relaxed and will avoid any drama. Few good improvisers! 
  • Tell the person organizing the reception. 
  • The speech must be: personal, original, simple, clear and brief.
  • Start with « Ladies & Gentlemen. » If a personality is in the room: Start with its title.
  • Do not stay away from the subject.
  • Stay positive even if it’s about a disaster.
  • Do not talk about yourself.

Umbert remembers you the Dos & Don’ts for a great table conversation.

Tonight he will have once again an amazing time in Paris, especially because the dinner will on a boat, watching all the sparkling illuminations of Paris.

What you must remember : If all the guests feel and stay confortable, the party will be a success. A drama would ruin everything. Stay on general topics, and always give your best original and positive comments.

How to become irresistible ? Download now the free eBook, chapter Behave (only available this month).

Bon voyage !

Umbert De Paris

Table manners for your holiday party, Gentlemen only ! (video & podcast)

To listen to the podcast click here :



Today Umbert helps his friend Georges coming from Cape Town in South Africa. 

Georges needs an update about the table manners for the holiday party.

A very fun moment for both of us, cause they will do role play.


Benefits of this coaching :

  • Best methodology to become irresistible
  • Innovative technique to unleash your charisma
  • Learn the new etiquette & manners
  • A better lifestyle


« If you do not know good manners, pray for good reflexes … », Billy Crystal, American Actor

Si vous ne connaissez pas les bonnes manières, priez pour avoir de bons réflexes…“, Billy Crystal, Acteur Américain


In this article :

1) Going to the table

2) At the table

3) Table service

4) The toast

5) How to eat some dishes


1) Going to the table

About 1 hour after the beginning of the aperitif it is time to sit down at the table.

Here is the timeline :

  1. The host gets up and offers the guests to sit down at the table. He does not hurry the guests who have the courtesy not to hang out too much.
  2. He places the guests or the guests look for the place cards. Do not change the order.
  3. The men help their neighbors to sit down behind the chair and back to the table once the woman sits.
  4. Men sit after women.

If a woman gets up during the meal, all the men get up too (optional, this for a very formal dinner).

If a new guest arrives late, the men get up, the women do not (optional, this for a very formal dinner).

If a woman arrives late at the table, the men stay up until she sits (optional, this for a very formal dinner).

Never forget that you aren’t the host who should handle the party.

Do not take any initiative (turn down the lights, install the guests, go to the kitchen) without asking permission.

2) At the table

Attention: The good education is judged now …

If you hesitate, look and imitate the other guests or the host.

Only sit down after the host.

Do not stick to the table. Stay 50 cm away.

Stand upright without leaning against the chair.

Put your hands on the table.

Do not put your belongings on the table.

It is very impolite to take medicines at the table.

Carefully unfold the towel and put it on your knees. Never put it in the collar. If it is very large, keep it folded in half on your knees.

Take the piece that is in front of you when you are presented with a dish. Think about testing a bit of everything.

Wait for the house host to start eating.

Use cutlery in order: from the outside to the inside.

The cutlery must be held so that the fingers touch only the handle: a few centimeters above the blade of the knife or the fork. Do not gesticulate with the cutlery while talking.

Never eat with your elbows on the table. If you prick red meat with your right hand, do not put your left elbow on the table. The elbows must remain stuck to the body. Even to cut the meat.

To push the food in your plate: in France use bread, in England the knife.

Do not lean towards your plate. Raise the fork or spoon to the mouth while standing upright.

Do not bite into the bread. Delicately cut eat with your fingers if it is not already cut.

Eat without noise. If a soup is served, do not vacuum it or blow on it if it is too hot. Wait a few seconds for it to cool down.

Your mouth must be shut when eating.

Never lick your knife.

Never eat the sauce with bread. Exception: if the host prides you the sauce and invites you to taste it, then yes. In this case sauce by putting a piece of bread at the end of your fork. Never with your fingers.

If you want the salt and pepper, or whatever, ask your neighbor. You never reach out to someone.

The glasses are placed in order.

Remember to serve wine or water to your female neighbors.

Wipe your mouth gently before drinking and after drinking. Do not lift your little finger to drink.

If you do not want wine, gently touch the glass with 2 fingers, expressing your refusal.

If you need to lay your cutlery while you are eating a dish, put them on the inverted V in your plate (/ \); the handle should never touch the table, cutlery are almost entirely on the plate.

It is polite to finish your plate, it shows that you’ve really appreciate the dinner.

Do not spread your leftovers on the plate.

At the end of a dish, place the cutlery next to each other at “quarter past four” and not “quarter past nine.” The fork teeth in the air.

At the end of the meal, put your towel lightly on the left of the plate. Exception: if you stay with at someone’s, either fold it or get a towel ring.

The house host gets up first.

3) Table service

All dishes are presented on the left.

The wines are presented on the right.

The plate and cutlery are removed from the left. They are replaced (if possible at the same time) by the right.

Never serve by stacking plates or, worse, dragging leftovers.

Only the salad can be served on the same plate as the main course. The ideal is to provide another plate for this purpose that you will place on the left of the large plate.

The service without butler:

  1. Serve first the lady sitting to the right of the master of the house.
  2. Then the one to his left.
  3. Then opposite, the one sitting to the right of the hostess.
  4. Then the one on the left.
  5. Then the 2nd in the same order, etc …
  6. The host is served last.
  7. For men, same principle from the one to the right of the hostess then left …
  8. The last served is the master of the house.

For a meal with friends: the first woman served passes to her neighbor on the right, who will serve his female neighbor, or,  if the host ask, will serve himself before.

Option: The host serves the guests who tend their plates.

4) The toast

If you are toasted, you must answer it.

  1. Raise your glass, no higher than the chin, holding it by the foot.
  2. Toast yourself by taking a sip.
  3. Finally, look the person in front of you in the eyes and make a kind head sign.
  4. A toast is never done with a glass of water, even if you do not drink alcohol.
  5. It is elegant not to address only the one who initiated the toast, but also to your neighbors on the right and left, with the glass, eyes and smile, without necessarily drinking.

5) How to eat some dishes

For the dishes bellow, you can read the article on the blog.:

  1. Soup
  2. Asparagus
  3. Artichoke
  4. Salad
  5. Caviar
  6. Oysters
  7. Mussels
  8. Lobsters
  9. Sushis
  10. Foie gras
  11. Escargots
  12. Omelet
  13. Spaghetti
  14. Fishes 
  15. Poultries
  16. Sandwiches
  17. Tacos 
  18. French fries
  19. Cheese
  20. Fruit pies
  21. Chocolate cake
  22. Orange
  23. Pear/apple
  24. Ice-cream


Umbert and Georges had so much fun playing table manners for their holiday party.

The gentlemen will impress the other guests for sure, especially the ladies.

What you must remember : tables manners seem to be very complicated, but they are not when assimilated. The best is to role play with a friend. If you you feel trapped in a dinner party, just imitate the others discreetly.

How to become irresistible ? Download now the free eBook, chapter Behave (only available this month).

Bon voyage !

Umbert De Paris

How to easily place your guests for your Thanksgiving party (Video & Podcast)

To listen to the podcast click here :



Umbert enjoys receiving his friends in Paris, especially for the long weekend of Thanksgiving.

It is a privileged moment for him to relax with his family and friends.

The coming winter, the fireplace, the plaid on the sofa, a very cozy universe conducive to family and friendly relations.

Umbert explains you How to easily place your guests for your Thanksgiving party.


  • Benefits of this coaching :
  • Best methodology to become irresistible
  • Innovative technique to unleash your charisma
  • Learn the new etiquette & manners
  • A better lifestyle


“The family is a big table and everyone around”, Laetitia Casta, French actress


In this article :

1) Table setting at home

2) Table setting for business


1) Table setting at home

The simplest  to not be embarrassed at the last moment, is to provide cardboards with the names, placed in front of the water glass (or pebbles, shells, ribbons ….)

  • The hostess and her husband:

In France, if the table is of 6, 10, 14 or 18 guests, the hostess and her husband are placed at each end of the table, face to face. If the table is of 8, 12, 16 guests, the hostess shifts one place to respect the alternation Male / Female.

In England and the USA: the householders are at each end of the table.

  • The guest of honor:

For a woman: to the right of the master of the house.

For a man: to the right of the hostess.

  • Couples of equal social importance (couple X and Y):

If couples are of equal importance: places of honor go to those who are invited for the first time, or to the oldest people, or the one whose function is the most important.

Couples are always separated except those who have been married for less than a year.

– Mr. X will be to the right of the hostess.

– Mr. Y will be on the left.

– Madame Y will be on the right of the master of the house.

– Ms. X will be on the left.

  • Particularities:

If there is a single person, the alternation will not be able to play. Do not point it out.

Likewise if you are 13 at the table.

A religious personality always has the place to the right of the hostess.

If you are alone, do not put a single person in front of you … Avoid ambiguity.


2) Table setting for business

The most important guest sits to the right of the host, the second to the left.

If there are 2 people who invite, they sit at each end of the table, with the 3rd most important to his right.


How to easily place your guests for your Thanksgiving party? Respect these simple tips.

The table plan is made to encourage meetings and talkings between guests.

What to remember: position people in order of importance to those who invite. Place a cardboard in front of each glass to avoid any confusion at the last moment.

How to become irresistible ? Download now the free eBook, chapter Behave (only available this month).

Bon voyage !

Umbert De Paris

How to set up a table in style at home for your best friends (video & podcast)

To listen to the podcast click here :



Umbert has invited his best friends for a dinner in Paris.

His apartment has a huge living room with a nice dinner table for 12.

Umbert doesn’t want to show off tonight, he just wants his friends to be happy and confortable.

How to set up a table in style at home for your best friends ?

He knows that the table setting is important, not only because it shows its respect for his guests, but also because a nice decor and atmosphere makes the food and drinks better.

Simplicity or fantasy but everything must be perfect.

Benefits of this coaching :

  • Best methodology to become irresistible
  • Innovative technique to unleash your charisma
  • Learn the new etiquette & manners
  • A better lifestyle


“True cooking is an art form, a gift to share” Oprah Winfrey, American animator

“La vraie cuisine est une forme d’art, un cadeau à partager », Oprah Winfrey, animatrice américaine


In this article :

1) The tablecloth and towels

2) The plates

3) The cutlery

4) The glasses

5) The table decoration


1) The tablecloth and towels

Place a fleece under the tablecloth. It is more pleasant but be careful, it must not exceed the table.

Choose a tablecloth :

  • Variegated with plain plates.
  • Clear with dark plates and vice versa.
  • In white damask with white porcelain and gold.
  • On a round table, iron the folds of the tablecloth.
  • On a rectangular table we keep the folds of the length parallels and we pass those of the width.

The towels are made of fabric matching the tablecloth, organic if possible :

  • For lunch: it is placed on the plate, folded into a triangle, pointing downwards.
  • For dinner: it is on the left of the plate folded in rectangle, touching the forks.
  • It is never presented in a glass.
  • If you are serving shellfish: plan for large towels to be removed afterwards.
  • If a guest drops a towel, change it.

2) The plates

They are placed 2 cm from the edge of the table and 50 to 62 cm apart from each other.

Never put two plates flat on top of each other, except for the small plate of the entrance.

If you serve soup, the soup plate is placed on a flat plate.

You can place in the top left of the plate a small plate for bread, but it can be placed directly on the tablecloth.

Avoid presentation plates, it isn’t chic.

3) The cutlery

Cutlery is used from the outside to the inside, from top to bottom for cheese and dessert. 

The knives are placed to the right of the plate, cutting edge towards the plate. If serving cutlery every time, no knife holder, otherwise it is placed on the right.

The forks are placed on the left. In France, the tips are placed on the table. Why ? This was done to show the coat of arms or the initials. In England and the USA, forks and spoons are placed on the other side.

If there is soup, the spoon is on the right side of the knife, curved side on the top. The soup spoons are placed on the rounded side.

The small cheese knife is placed at the top, blade to the right and cutting edge to the plate.

The small dessert fork is placed near the plate, the teeth to the right and down. The dessert cutlery are not placed at the beginning.

Fun ! Louis XIV imposed the use of the forks. Before we ate with the fingers or with a spoon.

“Thank you Umbert for the advices on the cutlery. Before it was a nightmare when I was invited to a fine dining restaurant in France. I never remembered how to use them”, Mark J.

4) The glasses

Before placing the glasses on the table, wipe them with a very thin white cloth. They need to be impeccable.

They rank in descending order to the right : Water – Red wine glass – White wine glass.

The not very full water glass is always served before going to the table.

In large dinner parties, there may be two glasses for the red wine : one for the wine that accompanies the meat, the other for the cheese.

Exception for the size, Champagne last right. Champagne heats up less quickly in flutes than in cuts.

The glass is held by the foot and not by the chalice to not heat the drink. Do not dismiss the little finger, it is now childish and unsuitable.

5) The table decoration

The flowers :

  • They need to match the color of the tablecloth and the service used.
  • On a white tablecloth, the flowers will be white or pastel.
  • In the country: choose wildflowers or roses from the garden. No precious flowers.
  • The perfume must be very light, so you can appreciate the food.
  • The bouquets must be low to not disturb the guests, or in a long centerpiece.
  • You can choose a central bouquet surrounded by two small ones.

The  centerpiece :

  • You can place it in cups, compotiers, basins, plate.
  • You can choose flowers, or flowers floating on the water.
  • Also a mixture of fruits and vegetables, add flowers if you like.
  • Red foliage, because red is the perfect color for food.
  • Floating candles give a nice light, in an intimate atmosphere.

Candles :

  • Place them up to the faces or just above them.
  • In candelabra, place long, thin candles, cream.
  • Light them at the last moment.

An original idea : if the table is large, in addition to candlesticks and flowers, you can put characters or animals in silver or colored porcelain.

The menus : 

  • Put a menu between 2 covers.
  • It has to be hand-written on white cardboard (surrounded by a gold border).
  • It bears the date of the day.
  • The dishes should have a simple name, this is more chic that long names.
  • We write “salad” but not « cheese » because there is no good dinner without cheese.

Great tip : in the country you can write it on a postcard of the region or your property. For a wedding, anniversary or baptism, on the photo of the event.

This is How to set up a table in style at home for your best friends. 

Umbert is sure that with this setting, his friends will start a great evening, have fun, and enjoy an amazing dinner.

What must be remembered : keep it simple and chic. Even for a little party, try to respect those rules. This not to show off, but you want your friends to have a wonderful experience when visiting.


How to become irresistible ? Download now the free eBook, chapter Behave (only available this month).

Bon voyage !

Umbert De Paris