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Have you ever felt invisible – where people aren’t listening to your viewpoints? The lack of organizational listening hinders success at all levels.

Listening is the salient communication skill in business that’s inexpensive to implement but can make a huge difference in profits.

But there’s a difference between listening and hearing. Listening is an active process. A person’s ear receives the information and processes it to make it understandable and utilized.

Unfortunately, published reports indicate people only pay attention to 20 percent to what’s said to them. Huh?

Unless you’re a great communicator, whether you’re in a one-on-one conversation or in giving a speech, it’s worth noting that the sad truth is your audience only listen to part of what you’re saying. Worse, much of what they hear you say is easily forgotten.


Firstly, folks hear thousands upon thousands of words daily. It’s easy for them to become conditioned to information overload.

They might be looking at you and they’re probably hearing what you have to say. But there’s a difference between hearing and listening.

Hearing your words is a simple process.

However, actual listening by your audience members takes a conscious effort and concentration so their brains processes the meaning of your words, which can be committed to memory.

Secondly, the person doing the talking often has to overcome emotional filters.

People often prejudge, perhaps they don’t like you personally, or are instantly thinking of ways to rebut your points, or they’re failing to fully listen because they’re preoccupied with formulating a question while you’re speaking.

The secret is engagement

Great speakers are engaging – they’re able to get their audiences to listen intently so they don’t react but respond – to think about how to productively reply.

In the art of persuasion, if you want to be a successful speaker you need to manage to keep your audience from evaluating your sentences and convincing them to control their tendencies to prove you’re wrong.

Obstacles to success occur if the people are negative, don’t like the speaker or are tired of the subject because it’s been previously discussed.

The key to enticing others – to take in your information, remember it and to respond favorably – is to engage them well in the presentation of your ideas.

Here are five recommendations to maximize your art of persuasion:

1. Be empathetic

Theodore Roosevelt had it right: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

To paraphrase Mr. Roosevelt, your audience will listen more carefully to you after you’ve shown you’ve listened to them.

The trick is to acknowledge your audience in your presentation. This is true whether you’re in a group discussion or giving a speech.

For instance, if you’re in a small group discussion, compliment what someone has said and then build on what they’ve said and say something like “Here’s a thought to build on her/his thoughts…”

If you’re leading a team project, say something such as: “Each of you has given great input and I’m using your ideas in this plan.”

If giving a speech, it’s helpful if you survey the audience in advance with a questionnaire. Then, in your speech announce the results of the opinions.

In any of these situations, you’re complimenting and acknowledging credit for the persons while you’re showing leadership.

2. Have succinct, easy-to-understand points

The people are more likely to retain your salient points if you have simple points to which they can relate and if you reiterate them.

So, introduce your key points in these ways: “Here’s an important thing…” or “My point is…” or “We profit, if we…”

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”

-John Ford

Again, reinforce your key points with repetition – at the beginning of your comments, in the middle and at the conclusion.

And, oh yes, show conviction and speak with confidence with something like, “So, I strongly believe we’ll succeed with…” or “With this innovative solution for success…”

3. Number each of your key points

Organize the structure of your content with key points and count them to help your audience take notice.

For example, count your points with something like, “The first…” or “The second…” and so forth.

By describing a clear structure with your points, you’ll be more persuasive.

4. Go slow

The trouble with some public speakers is that they hasten their speaking. Often, they speak faster than the audience members can process what’s being said.

It’s important to speak casually by emphasizing key points and giving weight to each important point.

Timely pauses between points are vital to help people to absorb what you have to say.

And speaking with conviction are also very effective in getting people to pay close attention.

5. Use positive body language and mannerisms

Good eye contact, facial expressions and remembering the dos and don’ts of gesturing will influence how well people will listen to you.

Look at every person in the room. Make certain to make eye contact with each of them.

Animation shows passion for your ideas. Moreover, it makes your speaking voice more animated and influential because your audience will pay closer attention to what you have to say.

Sit or stand erectly. This conveys confidence for optimal listening.

To engage your audience, use open gestures – especially when conveying your key points. To show confidence, never fold your arms.

Your audience will stay engaged with positive body language and mannerisms.

So, make it easy for your audience to listen to you – fully – with their hearts and minds.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more communication tips:

Acting, Speaking Coach: How to Improve Communication with Others — If you’re having communication problems with someone important in your career or life, chances are one or both of you will profit from tips in honest communication.

Public Speaking: How to Earn Loyalty, Trust from Your Audience — For success in giving a speech, you must be able to bond with your audience. How? If you use a simple technique you can earn loyalty and trust with your audience members. Many speakers, however, overlook using the technique.

Communication: Avoid 10 Phrases to Improve Your Image — Many professionals unknowingly undermine their careers. That’s right. They either self-destruct or limit their career potential by giving away their power in communication.

10 Management Attributes for Effective Communication — Communication skills are critical for managers. People with enhanced abilities in communication typically have successful relationships at work and home. Good communicators typically have 10 attributes.

Communication – You Can Train Yourself to Stop Stressing — Feeling pressure is one thing but allowing it to morph into stress and tension means you’re giving away your power, which inhibits your performance.

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”

-John Ford


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.