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Public Speaking: How to Create an Interested Group of Listeners

Obviously, you want to be listened to when you speak before an audience. Also, you want to arouse the interest and attention of your audience who, in the moment of communication of ideas, seems to be interested in hearing what you have to say but who just doesn't pay attention.
                    listening audience

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Obviously, you want to be listened to when you speak before an audience. Also, you want to arouse the interest and attention of your audience who, in the moment of communication of ideas, seems to be interested in hearing what you have to say but who just doesn't pay attention. Of course, you wish to eliminate the feelings of frustration and disappointment when you observe your audience looking bored and sleepy during your delivery of your speech.

How do you create an animated, enthusiastic, interested group of listeners? Here are some clues for effective listening to be cultivated in your audience.

Consider the physical aspects of listening such as the size of the room, the acoustics, the atmosphere, the types of chairs provided for the audience, and the surroundings. Is the room small or too big for your listening group? Are the acoustics good or irritating to the ears of the listeners? Are the chairs hard (or soft or comfortable for the listeners to sit on and listen attentively to you)? Is the surrounding quiet so as to create an atmosphere conducive to intense listening or too noisy as to create disturbance or restlessness on the part of the audience? What type of microphone will be used? Is it a good one that will convey your voice pleasantly and clearly to your listening group or is it a defective one that will jar the sensitive ears of your audience?

Take into account the people you are going to talk to. Get to know them by empathizing with them. Put yourself in their place and think of what they will feel and how they would feel when they listen to you. If you put yourself in the shoes of others, you will have a better understanding of your listening group. You will really admit that you, too, are sometimes guilty of not listening to talks given when you are troubled by personal problems, or distracted by other factors, or affected by some conditions in the speaking situation. So, too, with your listening group. Remember that listening is dependent upon a lot of factors.

More important is this: when you speak to people, look at them so as to establish mental contact with them. By looking closely at the people you are speaking to, you can get some knowledge about how your words are being received. And, if you can't get that knowledge, at least you can receive attention. Remember that the speaker and the listener look at one another not just to be polite but to communicate. If you wish your audience to concentrate on your speech, then look at them directly in order to put their ears at your command.

Think of your audience as a mirror image of yourself. If what you have to say is interesting to you and if it is presented in a colorful and dramatic way, the chances are that it will be interesting to an audience. Therefore, dramatize your speech so as to create favorable responses from them.

Put yourself in the role of a listener. As a listener, if you deliberately put your eyes in line with the speaker's, you will surely overcome the temptation of allowing your mind to wander. You will concentrate on what the speaker will say and you will respond favorably only after you have heard and understood what has been said to you.

During the talk, think about the purpose or ideas being presented. Think about the ideas that are emphasized. Try to remember them. Try to remember the items that impress you - vocabulary, examples, speaker's interests, etc. Then, when the speech is over, try to reconstruct the presentation. Think about how effective you feel the speaker was in getting the message across.

One good method of learning how to listen effectively is to interview someone. In this type of speaking, both the interviewer and the person being interviewed have to listen to each other. Practice this speaking activity if you wish to be a good speaker or a good listener. Consider these questions in the interview. What was most difficult about the interview? Were you interested in what was being communicated? Did you communicate anything in the interview or were you merely a passive listener?

Remember that there is a time for listening - not only speaking. Hence, you, as a listener, are an important part of the communications line. How well you do your part will help determine the effectiveness of oral communication.

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Comments (1)

Great article, very well written...displays excellent presentation. I personally find it useful-trying to brush on my facilitation skills and your article list some great tips. Thanks much. Voted up!

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