The most important skill a speaker can develop is listening.
“What? How is that?” you may ask. Listening is critically important. Is your audience with you or not? Are they following you, or are they falling WAY behind? Or are they much quicker than you are giving them credit for? Did they fail to laugh at the last thing you thought was hilarious? Is your energy level even with theirs, or is it too high or too low? Are you speaking too fast for them, or too slow?
All of these are important questions. If they are not answered accurately, you cannot be effective as you could be as a speaker.
Have you ever seen a speaker ask a question (other than a rhetorical question) and then just keep on going regardless of the answer? That is a sure sign of a lack of listening.
Effective listening begins with your intent to listen. The most repeated piece of advice in speaking is “know your audience.” That includes knowing ahead of time what your audience wants & needs. It also includes being “tuned in” to your audience at any given moment as you speak. The only way you can be”tuned in” is through carefully “listening” to your audience – with your eyes and ears. As I mentioned with the previous tip, however, it is important not to focus on or “listen to” negative exceptions in the audience.
It’s great to uplift our audience, but to do that effectively, we have to take into consideration where our audience is starting from, meet them where they are (or close to where they are) and then take them to that higher place. For example, if an audience is very low-key, and a speaker comes on like gangbusters, that can create a disconnect with the audience. In that example, it would be much better for the speaker to match his or her energy closer to that of the audience’s to start, and then take them up. This is only possible if you are listening to your audience.
How are you progressing with your development around speaking? Please let me know, and feel free to ask any questions you may have. Remember that you can practice and improve your speaking skill with every conversation you have.
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Datta Groover is the founder of Higher Speech, and is a professional speaker and speaking coach. Datta loves seeing how quickly people can improve every aspect of their lives, personally and professionally, by improving their ability to express themselves authentically. To find out more, go to http://www.HigherSpeech.com.