15 May 2009

Public Speaking needs Public Listening

Why do I get the sense that everyone wants to be heard but nobody is listening. In the last few weeks I have been to several presentations that completely missed the mark on the audience to whom they were presenting. Then there is the social media phenomenon of sharing too much with perhaps those that don't really care to know.

Okay, perhaps I am being cynical. This is not usually my way, but we all have those days. Perhaps I am just not listening well? Always a possibility, of course. This is not a simple matter of targeting our message. It comes down to the basics of human relations and communications. Ask a question. Listen to the response. Consider the response. Reply to it (agree, disagree, clarify your question if the response did not answer it). At the very minimum acknowledge it. Consider the answer they are giving, not the one you anticipate.

Did I miss something? Oh yes, wisdom of my mother (and probably everyone else's) "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." A lot of complaining and blaming doesn't get us very far. Look for solutions for what we can do rather than problems in what is not being done. "No whining" might be the motto of the day. Statistics are great, but even they can be skewed. So, listen, to your heart, to your audience and to the people with whom you are speaking. If you invite them into the conversation, listen to what they have to say. You never know you might just learn something. Then you would really have something to speak about.

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