Yesterday I noticed an article in my Linkedin feed titled “10 ways to get people to listen to you”. I was intrigued because the title appeared to be a one way interaction: in the “You have to listen to me” style of communication.
The article included hiring a mentor, reading lots of newspapers, practising (it didn’t specify what) and networking. The most worrying tip was ‘eye contact’. Given the nature of the title, I wondered whether ‘eye contact’ was ‘eye balling’ a listener into submission “YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME”…
I have absolutely no doubt that the author had the best intentions in writing the article, but unfortunately it failed to mention that you can’t GET someone to listen to them, you have to ENGAGE them in the conversation. A listener is just as important as a speaker and in order to have a conversation, even if one person is speaking to others – for example a public speaking engagement or presentation. The listener endorses what the speaker is saying; encourages them with non-verbal messages, such as nodding the head and grunting. They can ask questions to encourage the speaker; mirror their body language and maintain eye contact (not eye balling). It rather reminds me of the Englishman abroad who speaks louder in English, to be understood!
In the same way, a speaker also has a role to play, to make it easier for the listener to engage with them.
- They have to make it easy for the listener to listen to them. Speaking clearly with an audible voice and language and vocabulary that is easy to understand.
- The speaker should know their audience and modify the speech to be easy for the audience to listen to.
- The speaker should make sure there are no distractions, such as background noise, so that the listener isn’t DISTRACTED.
- The speaker should plan what they are going to say. A rambling speech that is unstructured is bound to lose an audience.
- If you are delivering a presentation or public speaking engagement, practice! Not only will you become more confident, you will iron out anything that might not be relevant.
- Adopt a positive, neutral body language. Mirror the body language of your listener and have eye contact.
- Be aware of what your listener it doing. Are they distracted? Have they glazed over? Have they switched off? Perhaps they aren’t interested in what you are saying or don’t understand you.
- Before you speak, check they are ready to listen! You might need to say something important to someone, but they might be in the middle of a task. It might not be the right time.
You can’t GET someone to listen to you, you have to ensure they want to listen to you and then you include content that is of interest, without distractions.
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