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Communication – a Voyage of Experience: Part 3

Posted December 08, 2010 4:18 PM by English Rose

The Introduction, Part 1 and Part 2 to this series are available via the links.

Part 3: How Well Do You Listen?

I expect that quite a number of you have been on training courses where you have been told the importance of active listening. You may even have spent 5 minutes listening to a partner and then regurgitating the facts they told you.

This exercise has some merit, but it doesn't cover all the aspects of active listening. These include paying attention not only to the facts but also to:

  1. the tone of voice
  2. gestures
  3. filler words
  4. grammar
  5. the use of language to create mind pictures
  6. the structure and logical flow of the speech

You may not think that you need to pay attention to all these points in all of your everyday conversations and work place reports and interactions. I would suggest that the more you pay attention to these, the more quickly and easily you will be able to understand what is being said to you, and the more you will notice the non-verbal clues that the speaker is sharing.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you mutter, I've heard all this before. I do it all the time.

Do you? How do you know you're doing it effectively? Could you articulate the detail of what you've picked, to a time limit, and make that into a logical speech of its own that is useful to the original speakers?

There are several roles at a Toastmasters meeting that give you the opportunity to develop and hone these skills. Here is a brief description of one of these roles (the others will follow in subsequent blogs).

Ah Counter

The Ah Counter focuses on the speakers' use of filler words – from the simple 'Ah', 'Umm' and 'Er' to the repeating of words and phrases to the overuse of certain conjunctions such as 'and', 'so' and the favourites 'actually', 'kinda' and 'you know'. Obviously.

At the end of the meeting, the Ah Counter will let each speaker know how many filler or crutch words they used and which these words were. This is particularly useful when you favour a certain word – mine was 'and' – as once you know what you use, you can work at avoiding those words.

The aim is for each speaker to eliminate the filler words so that they have a much more polished and powerful presentation. Just as in engineering we often say "if you can't measure it, you can't improve it", so in Toastmasters the adage "if you don't know you say it, you can't remove it" holds true.

In the next blog, the Grammarian's role.

© 2010 ER Productions

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#1

Re: Communication – a Voyage of Experience: Part 3

12/09/2010 2:55 AM

The emotional state and voice of the speaker are other factors to decide, if the man is cool or tense. The listener got to calm down the reporter.

Another main point is the very stste of the listener himself-if you are tense you could spoil an effective listening.

So both parties got to in a cool fix.

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#2

Re: Communication – a Voyage of Experience: Part 3

12/10/2010 3:15 AM

It has been many years since I was in Gavel Club, the junior version of Toastmasters; but I remember this exercise. The first time you are told of twenty hesitation syllables in your two-minute speech, you may almost need a recording to convince you. Then you learn to notice those and to work on avoiding them.

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#3
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Re: Communication – a Voyage of Experience: Part 3

12/10/2010 7:54 AM

My experience exactly!

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#4

Re: Communication – a Voyage of Experience: Part 3

12/13/2010 9:23 AM

I once was asked to do a marketing video of a CAD product that I demoed to potential customers on a regular basis. The standard demo took about 30 minutes. The intent was to provide a video to our dealers to show them how to demo the product effectively.

We decided to proceed by creating a raw videotape of my demo first. Then the verbiage was put down on paper with all the extraneous crap removed; ah's, er's, redundant words that we have a habit of repeating ad nauseam, etc.

The video was then edited and I did a voice over using the edited text as a script. Funny thing is that we had to do a number of "retakes" of the voice over to match it to the video because in a real life demo I verbalized quite a bit of extra stuff to fill in periods where I was waiting on the computer to accomplish some lengthy task.

That voice over was one of the most difficult tasks I ever took on. It, the video, also caused some profound changes in how I did live demo's, mostly for the good. All in all, it was a great learning experience for my then career as a corporate speaker.

Hooker

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Communication – a Voyage of Experience: Part 3

12/14/2010 7:51 AM

Nice story. Videos are a really good way to learn about your habits - good and bad - really quickly

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#6
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Re: Communication – a Voyage of Experience: Part 3

12/14/2010 8:20 AM

Thanks. I also learned during that episode that I much prefer pandering to a live audience rather than a camera.

There's a significant difference between real human eyeballs and camera lenses when it comes to judging one's performance on the spot.

Hooker

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