The flip side to being a good speaker is being a good listener.
Most speakers are understandably focused on how to deliver their best possible presentation. Therefore, most of my consulting work is to help presenters:
- Be Confident. Believing in their message and their ability to connect with the audience.
- Be Heard. Strengthening their credibility with a focused message that’s easily understood.
- Be Inspiring. Delivering their message with an authenticity and a dynamic delivery that engages listeners and motivates action.
But there is another, often overlooked, way to become a stronger presenter that has nothing to with preparation, visuals, or delivery.
Just as the best presenters strive to be confident, heard and inspiring, a good listener should aim for these three goals:
- Be Curious. No matter what the setting, be willing to give the speaker your undivided attention and listen with an intellectual curiosity. Think of it as making an investment in yourself and set a goal of learning (or re-learning) something new.
- Be Present. Make a conscious decision to both show up (on time) and listen. Stay actively engaged rather than distracted by a buzzing Blackberry, a loose button on your jacket, or where you’d like to go for lunch. It’s like reading a good book, watching an enthralling movie, or enjoying a conversation with a good friend – not paying close attention dilutes the experience.
- Be Involved. Have fun! Make a conscious decision to participate. If the speaker asks a question, be ready to answer. If there are exercises, do them. If there’s a Q & A, be prepared with a thoughtful question or comment. In other words, get involved and make the most out of your time and the information shared rather than being passive.
By sharpening your listening skills, you may pick up a new audience engagement technique, learn to handle interruptions more gracefully, or what not to do when faced with a tough Q&A.
Try it yourself…you may be surprised at how quickly better listening leads to better presenting.