Apr 232014
  • To become a good speaker, develop your listening skills

So many people believe that a good presentation or interview depends solely, or almost entirely on, how they speak.  I advise my clients, individually and in workshops, about the importance of creating a dialogue when they speak.

  • Communication is a two-way process — always.

Too many people put an emphasis on “telling their story,” forgetting that they need to make a connection with the individual or group listening.   One of the keys to being an effective speaker is engaging your audience, whether it’s a one-to-one situation, group or large gathering.

If you’re making a presentation where dialogue isn’t possible, you still need to engage your listener.  Make eye contact.  Consider your body language: maintain a good posture with relaxed arms, using your hands for emphasis where appropriate.

  • How Listening Makes a Difference

When the situation allows for active give and take, listen to the individual speaking and respond to comments or questions.   This becomes critical in an interview where many people have carefully planned what they think they should say and don’t deal with a change in “the script.”  Allow the interviewer to describe the job and respond to this information, even if it means deviating from your original plan.

Developing the ability to listen and respond to questions, to engage in active thinking, remains one of the most valuable tools for effective speaking — and succeeding in today’s competitive job market.

  • Is listening an art or a skill?

It may be a bit of both, but it’s definitely an ability anyone can develop.  Just as becoming a good writer takes practice, focus and training, so does listening.  While some people have what appears to be natural talent as a writer or speaker, many learn to exercise these skills by working at the process.

Becoming a good listener, and in turn, a good speaker, is not a mystery.  Listening is an ability that can be developed.  It will serve you well as a valuable tool for personal and professional success.


Check back soon for more thoughts on communication, speech-language pathology and executive function.


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