Humans learn to listen before we learn to talk.
We discuss public speaking a lot. Something we don’t talk about as much is the art of listening.
Active listening goes hand in hand with public speaking. Being a better listener helps you become a better speaker.
But what is active listening?
It goes beyond listening to what someone is saying.
It’s observing both verbal and non-verbal messages and exhibiting your understanding by providing appropriate feedback.
Active listening is listening on purpose.
Here are some of the ways active listening helps you as a speaker:
It strengthens your comprehension skills which builds your confidence
It helps you grow knowledge around your talk topic
It helps you understand your audience
It helps you process feedback which helps you refine your talk
Here are our tips to become better with active listening and thus enhancing your speaking skills.
Go into a presentation, meeting, or conversation with an openness to learn. Don’t have your mind made up before you hear what the speaker has to say.
Remove as many distractions as you can so you can better focus and absorb the information being presented to you.
Don’t anticipate your response
Focus on the speaker and let them complete their thought before you form your response. When you spend time thinking of what you want to say before someone is done speaking, you will miss out on information and context.
Let someone complete their thought before you ask questions or verbally respond. You will miss out on details and you may derail them along the way, making it harder for them to get their point across.
Make eye contact with the speaker
Making eye contact helps you stay engaged and better retain information presented to you. It also shows the speaker you are present and listening.
Don’t tune out of confusing concepts
It’s easy to skip over things that we don’t fully or immediately comprehend. Instead, ask clarifying questions so you can better understand.
Don’t be scared to ask too many questions
Even if it feels uncomfortable, ask as many questions as you need to understand and retain the information being presented to you.
Active listening takes practice. But it will help you engage with others and elevate your speaking skills.