Becoming One with Your Listener!
It was June 1999 and I was sitting in a room with a group of people I just met. It was the first day of Ty Boyd’s Excellence in Speaking Institute. I was attending his school because I wanted to become a better public speaker. Actually, I wanted to learn to present so well that people would say; “Look at him, he’s a wonderful speaker!” So it’s interesting to note the first lesson I learned that morning was “professional speaking isn’t about the speaker.” Professional speaking is about the message and the audience needing to hear that message. If you don’t have a message your audience needs to hear then you probably don’t have a right to be in front of them. Professional speaking is not about speaking. It’s about how to communicate. Our job as presenters isn’t so much to get the attention of our audience as it is to give attention to our audience.
One of the best ways to connect with your listener is to give them the sense that you know their business as well as you know your own. Presentations should be built on the listener’s future rather than the presenter’s past. “Don’t tell me about your grass seed, tell me about my lawn.”
Being an unprepared presenter sends a dramatic message to your listener. It says to them; “I don’t think you’re very important. If you were, I’d be better prepared.” Listeners are sensitive. They pick up signals and react to them personally. Listeners know more than presenters ever give them credit for. Never underestimate the sensitivity of your listener. For example:
- Listeners know how you feel that day.
- Listeners sense if you don’t like them.
- Listeners know when you’ve memorized your presentation or are reading from a script.
- Listeners know when you’re lying. They know when you’re bluffing.
- Listeners know when you’re giving them a sales pitch.
- Listeners know if you know their business and their industry.
- Listeners know if you know your business and your industry.
Over the summer Gary will continue his blog series on the Art of Telling. He believes that speaking skills are required and acquirable for today’s business professional. The purpose of the Art of Telling blog series is to enable readers to develop the communication and presentation skills that will serve them a lifetime. Click here to see more on Gary’s Art of Telling programs and seminars.