The Enemy Within

Make the Enemy of your Enemy, your friend.

The fear of the unknown causes many people to avoid speaking Public Speaking. Some see the audience as the Enemy when in fact, it is the “Enemy Within” that must be faced and defeated. It is the voices in our heads screaming, “you are going to make a fool of yourself, shut up!” that is the real Enemy. Audiences don’t root for you to fail. They listen and respond to what they saw, heard, and felt. Silence those voices of doom and gloom, and you will discover it is the “Enemy Within” that was preventing you from realizing your public speaking dreams. We all have unique stories to tell. Improvement and not perfection should be your goal. Even some of the best speakers known to us all will be the first to say “in Public Speaking, perfection does not exist.” Some may see perfection in a Picasso, while others may not. We will never know the unknown until we try, fail and try again. Sometimes you will succeed, sometimes you will fail. However, it is the lessons learned from your failure that will significantly exceed what you have achieved from your successes.

The first step to conquering your fear of public speaking is to embrace your fears. Make the Enemy of your Enemy, your friend. It is an ancient proverb that suggests, two parties can and should work against a common enemy. The common Enemy, the voices in your head you must silence. Those voices will never completely go away even when you have exceeded your expectations. Listen carefully to the feedback you receive as new voices emerge to help you on your journey. Mistakes will be made but not repeated. Speak to the smiling, friendly faces. They will boost your confidence and give you the assurance your audience is rooting for you to succeed. Read their faces like you are reading a book. Seek out those audience members responding to your message with a nod, a smile as you embrace the moment. Respond with your smiles and a twinkle in your eyes as you make your connection with words that matter.

Public Speaking requires that you have something to say. It is a requirement. You should also be able to anticipate how your audience might react after they have heard what you had to say. Choose your words carefully and know what you are targeting with your words. At times you will speak to the head. There are times you will talk to the heart, In all cases, narrowed your message down to a sentence consisting of no more than five to seven words. That sentence will anchor your message. It is also your go-to sentence if you should ever get lost for words. Yes, that happens not to some, but to us all even when we are on the platform. When every word you speak has a purpose – when every story you tell has the power to change lives – when the voices in your heart replace the voices in your head – Your authentic voice will be heard, and your presence will be felt.

Are you ready to accept the challenges of being a Public Speaker? As you begin to develop a style of your own, you will observe changes in those same negative voices you once heard. They become friendlier and may even start to sound like your best friend. That is when you must be careful. Taking your audiences for granted is one of the biggest mistakes many speakers make. All audiences are not the same. Prepare for each audience diligently and differently. The three P’s of Public Speaking becomes magnified each time you step on the platform. Your three P’s? – Preparation, Practice, and Presentation. Each time you speak, the expectations become greater than your last appearance. Your new voices from within must now emerge. As you speak, think about the six emotions that will make new connections with your audiences. Be happy, be sad, be surprised, be angry, add fear and even disgust to your speaking, and with time and practice, you too could become best friends with the Enemy Within.

Pathways to Your Communication Leadership Success

The Pathways Program is an evolution in our Toastmasters experience. You now get to customize your learning to fit your goals and needs. It provides the flexibility to choose what you want to learn. You can also select the skills you wish to improve as you continue to manage your Toastmasters education. Pathways sets you on a personal and professional journey of development that reflects the Toastmasters mission. It is a Pathway to your Communication and Leadership success.  

With Pathways, you broaden your abilities to meet the goals you have set for yourself. You start by choosing from 11 learning paths: Dynamic Leadership, Effective Coaching, Leadership Development, Motivational Strategies, Persuasive Influence, Presentation Mastery, Strategic Relationships, Team Collaboration, Visionary Communication, and Engaging Humor.

All paths are based on five core competencies:

      1. Public Speaking
      2. Interpersonal Communication
      3. Strategic Leadership
      4. Management
      5. Building Confidence

Each path is designed to help you achieve the last competency, confidence. The Presentation Mastery path focuses solely on public speaking skills and building confidence in your abilities. Public speaking is a crucial component of the other ten paths. Each path requires you to give a minimum of 15 prepared speeches. Each of the ten paths is divided into five levels. The levels are:

      1. Level 1: Mastering Fundamentals
      2. Level 2: Learning Your Style
      3. Level 3: Increasing Knowledge
      4. Level 4: Building Skills
      5. Level 5: Demonstrating Expertise

The goal throughout Pathways is to apply what you learn as you move from earlier to later levels.   

The evaluation process is standardized in Pathways. It encourages everyone to give evaluations that are objective and constructive. The first page provides an overview of the assignment to help the evaluator understand what you are trying to accomplish. There is also space for general comments about your speech. Speakers should submit the completed form to the Toastmaster and Evaluator for every speech before each meeting.

Your evaluator will use the second page to score the skills you demonstrated during your presentation. Evaluations are scored on a scale of 5 to 1, with five being the highest and one being the lowest. Summarize your evaluations. It is a good idea to monitor your three strengths and weaknesses of each assessment to help you focus on areas of improvement.   

Mentorship is an essential part of the Toastmasters experience. The Pathway Mentor Program is a structured program that will help you identify when you are ready to be a mentor. You will be able to enroll in this Program, once you complete Level 2 of your path. There is no extra charge for pursuing the Pathways Mentor Program. There are four projects in the Program, including “Introduction to Toastmasters Mentoring” at Level 2, which everyone will complete. 

The Pathways Program is your journey to achieving your communication and leadership goals. When you pursue and achieve your goals, they benefit you, your club, Area, Division, and your District. The Pathways Program is the path to your Communication and Leadership success.

Concluding Like The Masters

Churchill, King, Regan Kennedy, and their famous speechwriters.

20180621_214212The great orators and their speechwriters all used words of wisdom and quotes to highlight their POV – Point of View and to complement their speeches. They all quote the good book, for it is written. Churchill, King, Regan, Kennedy, all referenced the Psalms, Proverbs, and their personal stories that became statements or phrases wordy of being repeated. Great speakers speak to be heard, to be remembered, and to be repeated. Their opening remarks are direct and bold. However, it is in their closings; they appealed to the emotions of everyone, rallying their troops and delivering words of wisdom that continue to linger in the hearts and minds of audiences long after their applause.

Endings are your final opportunity to leave your audience with a lasting impression of your presentation and you, the speaker. Last words linger. It is for that reason, I strongly recommend you develop your powerful endings just as the great ones did. When you use a quote or your words of wisdom associated with the great orators, you sometimes shift the power and focus away from you, the speaker, tothe masters. It is wise to quickly refocus your audience with a power statement of your own. Many of your best endings will often come to you from your personal stories. No one can relate your stories better than you, even when you struggle emotionally to find the right words. In your words and wisdom, someone will always find the power in your truth.

The process of closing requires as much attention and planning as your opening. Why try to be Columbus. Learn from the great ones, but retain the power of the moment. The moment is yours. The passion and relationships you built with that audience are in your hands. If you choose to use the words of wisdom of one the masters, add your personal touch. Always remember, it is much more profound to close with one of your anecdotes or power statements than theirs. Give your closing the attention it deserves. Avoid ending similar to, in conclusion – Finally, That’s all I have or, the dreaded – Oops! I have just run out of time. Closings work best when you telegraph to the audience a sense of closure, and you are wrapping things up. You are now adding the bow to your gift – the speech – to the audience.

Signal to your audience, you are in wrapup mode by summarizing your main points. Make a call to action – ask a rhetorical question or a series of questions – build the energy and tension in the room – add drama to your closing remarks. Refer to a power statement you made in your opening if you had one. You are at that point of your talk where you must speak to the hearts and minds of your audience. When your closing inspires your audience to repeat your words, repeat your anecdotes, and repeat your unique sayings, your closing will linger to leave a lasting impression on the lives of your audience. Develop and use your words of wisdom and quotes with pride, hope, and love. And who knows; someday you will be quoted for your own memorable words of wisdom like the great orators of all times – Churchill, King, Regan Kennedy, and their famous speechwriters.

Beginning Your Speech – Tell Me More

Pleasantries and excuses for any reason are nonstarters.

fb_img_1573652958802The first moments of your speech are often the most critical. In those opening moments, you have the full attention of your audience. They are sizing you up. If that audience have never seen or heard you speak before, expectations are heightened. Your opening will often determines if you will hold that attention to take your audience to another level or fall flat, leaving everyone uninspired and disappointed. In those opening moments, you want to grab the attention of your audience. You want to introduce your topic. You need to establish rapport, or check in with your audience before transitioning smoothly into the body of your presentation. You want them to think quuietly -tel me more.

Your introduction and speech title should create anticipation, add drama and suspense to your opening. In the interest of time and to avoid boredom, what was said in your introduction should not be repeated. Your speech title will still be in the minds of your audience. I often try to have my title function like a light switch. Ask yourself the question, would this title switch my audience on – off – or perhaps do both. I have found that both works best when it makes your audience think – “tell me more.” Take time to decide on a title that does not give away your presentation but offers a hint of what’s to follow, whets their appetite, and inspires your audience to think as they increase their attention, to you and your presentation, “tell me more.”

Pleasantries and excuses for any reason are nonstarters. With that type of opening, you will surely lose your audience most likely, for the rest of your speech. Your introduction must hold on to the gift, the initial attention and spotlight drawn to you and your presentation by your presenter. A smile, good eye contact, enthusiasm, or a follow up comment about your introduction, if appropriate, are good audience ice-breakers. However, remember to stay focused on your purpose and topic. Begin your presentation. When your listeners understand your topic and why they should listen to your speech, they will always pay closer attention. One technique I sometimes use to hold on to my audience is to make a promise early. Remind them of that promise a few times during the presentation and fulfill the promise before closing.

In your opening, take a moment to establish rapport with your audience. If you appear to be angry or frustrated, your demeanor will negatively resonate with your audience. If you appear to be all positive or all negative, that too can be a turnoff. Strike a balance with what you are presenting. You can begin by stating a vital statistic, shock your audience with an outrageous comment, arouse suspense or curiosity or, tell a moving story. Balance works best. If you built tension, resolve it. Contrast is also an excellent technique to pique your listener’s interest. Whatever you do, your gold should be to draw your audience to you and the value of your presentation. First impressions are lasting. Often, you will only have one chance to create that first impression. That one chance is the first moment of your speech may very well be when your audience is thinking quietly – Tell Me More.

Chairmanship

Excellent Chairmanship is ensuring all contributors are heard. 

20200319_122011_001We all participate in hundreds of meetings each year. We will belong to many different organizations and will participate in various types of meetings. If you are to give your best when you attend these meetings, if you are to be respected and your opinions heard, you need to practice the basic principles of Chairmanship. How is your Chairmanship?

Members of organizations are busy people. The amount of time they devote to the organizations to belong to is limited. They expect the meeting they attend to run efficiently with no time wasted. When you are the Chairman, it is your responsibility to ensure that your objectives are achieved. The productive meeting starts and ends on time. The following are some best practices to follow when you are the Chairman.

A written agenda is a must. The agenda should also be distributed to all the attendees before the start of the meeting. Making the agenda available allows everyone to focus on the topic to be discussed. It also allows everyone to prepare and time his or her presentations. Your agenda plays a significant role in making sure your meeting ends on time. If you don’t have an agenda, what you may end up having might just be a free for all party. An agenda will keep everyone on the straight and narrow.

Respect the time and efforts of those who show up on time. Why wait for those who are not present. The scheduled time on the program is when the meeting should begin. If you don’t have a quorum, the Chairman can call the meeting to order and call for a recess of five to ten minutes, at which time, adjustments should be made to the agenda to make sure the session ends on time. The members who show up on time should not be punished for their due diligence.

Make sure the program proceeds at a pace that is acceptable to all attendees. Rushing through topics to complete the agenda is unacceptable. This is where your Chairmanship will be tested.  When a discussion wanders off subject or is taking more time than expected, this is when a chairman must exercise Chairmanship. Keeping participants engaged but not allow anyone to dominate the meeting.  A good chairman also recognizes those who seem reluctant to speak up.  Excellent Chairmanship is ensuring all contributors are heard. 

Ending your meeting on a positive note is very important. Sending everyone off at the end of a meeting feeling drained and asking did we accomplished is unacceptable for any organization. If a significant issue cannot be resolved, the problem can be assigned to a committee or place on the parking lot for more discussion at a later time, at that meeting or another. A good Chairman ends their session with a summary. They also make sure everyone understands the decisions made and actions to be taken. Follow these steps, and you will be respected by all your attendees for your wonderful Chairmanship.

Challenging Speeches – The Roast

The Roastmaster – no easy undertaking. 

20181207_093125How do you become a Roastmaster? The tradition of roasting those we love, usually the guest of honor at an anniversary, retirement is called a Roast. The person roasted is called the Roastee, and the speakers are the Roasters, The master of ceremonies is the Roastmaster – no easy undertaking. 

A Roast is perhaps one of the most challenging speaking occasions which many speakers avoid because of its nature. How do you praise someone with comedic insults and negativity? In addition to the jokes which are common at these types of events, the roaster must also include genuine appreciation and tributes fitting for the occasion. It is a tall order; however, the Roast of that special someone for their talents, dedication, and commitment to excellence is a unique event that is usually remembered fondly for a long time, especially when the event is successful and is well presented. 

Unlike speaking in praise, the Roasters responsible for bringing the heat, are usually close friends and relatives. They are the ones who will deliver the jokes, the satire, and anecdotes about the Roastee, who has agreed to subject themselves to the impending abuse. The expectation is that their material will relate only to the guest of honor for the body of work, for which they are roasted. No good deed goes unpunished. Almost nothing is off-limits, Real and exaggerated stories punctuated with wit, fun and humor must not be hurtful or embarrassing to anyone present. Producing a roast takes research excellent humor writing skills and guidance from the Roastmaster. However, the Roasters must decide what should or should not be included in their speeches and are fully responsible for the good, the bad, or the ugly they present.

It helps when many of the attending guests know and like the Roastee. When everyone is familiar with their quirks and peculiar personality, that is an excellent place to start gathering material for a fun-filled speech. Certain areas of one’s personal life should be respected and be off-limits, like children or spouses. If the guest of honor agrees to include any of that type of material, care, grace, and sensitivity should prevail. Remarks not considered relevant to the purpose of the Roast may be regarded as inappropriate and should be avoided. When you are in doubt, leave it out.  As you will not be the only one delivering a roast, decide if your delivery is going to be medium-rare or well-done as it pertains to your relationship with the Roastee. Stay in your lane. Leave the well -well-done to the headliner or the Roastmaster.

Opening your delivery with “he or she is the kind of person who” – is generally a good opener. Here are a few examples of the types of persons we all know. The perpetual latecomers – He is the kind of person – Who is always very punctual on his own time. The flip-flopper – She says she knows where she is going, but always end up somewhere else. The professor – He may not always be right, but is never wrong. The procrastinator – She feels that you should always put off for tomorrow things you should never do at all. The crusty grandma  – She trusts everybody, but still brings and cut her own cards. She is also a careful driver who would even drive on the sidewalks to avoid traffic. He is the kind of person who thinks twice before saying nothing. He believes there is nothing wrong with him being a pessimist. He is a real pessimist, an optimist with information. My dear friends can trace her family tree back to the time when their family lived in it. She is such a responsible person. No matter what goes wrong, she is always responsible. He is a true friend. He stabs you in the front and never forgets a favor- especially if he did it.

Roasting the ones we love is an oral tradition all speakers should try. Writing good clean humor is challenging. It is a dying art that we must preserve. When the roasting is all over. When the Roastee is well-done. If everyone can still laugh and took the jokes in good humor and not as a severe criticism or insult, you are will on your way to achieving that prestigious title that is one of the highest for all speakers, the prestigious title of Roastmaster.

 

 

Why Do You Prepare

It is not about you, it’s about your audience

20190726_172024Why do you prepare? Is it just to become better speakers, or do you prepare for your audience?  While it is said, you should select topics you are passionate about, choosing a topic that resonates with the audience you are facing should be your primary focus. You see, it is not about you; it’s about your audience. Take a moment to consider the needs and interests of the audience you will be facing as you begin your preparation. The topic you choose can have a significant effect on how well you are received by that audience. Your presentation should not only be all about you, your goals, and your achievements. Undoubtedly, personal stores are valid; however, they should not dominate the presentation.

Speeches with a message that has some universal appeal, more often than not, will have a lasting effect on audiences. The challenge for the speaker is to establish a connection with that audience through personal stories, humor, and relatable events spun into unique presentations. A speech is not an act. Speakers who use persuasion and the power of the spoken word effectively to keep their audience engaged should not need to perform or act. Speakers stand to deliver. They move with a purpose. They keep their audience engaged from the beginning of their presentation to their very last word.    

One of the most critical questions a speaker should ask themselves as they prepare for their audience is, what’s my purpose. Your purpose should be quite evident very early in your presentation. Get to the point of your presentation quickly with a strategy that would have the most significant effect on your audience. Open with a bang and not with a whimper. Don’t leave room for your audience to begin making assumptions about where you are heading. Be inviting. Make your audience curious. However, be clear as you take your audience willingly on the journey – your presentation.

Give your audience the confidence that you are a trusted leader. Your speech may be about a time and place from your past. You may want to relive a momentous event in your life on the platform. Use word pictures to recreate that moment in time as you bring those events back to life. Introduce your conflict early. Resolve conflicts, don’t leave them hanging. Name and describe your characters. Decide and be clear about who your hero is. An excellent choice is often someone other than yourself. Whatever you do, be clear. Be clear about what you would like your audience to think, feel, or do at the end of your presentation.

Your Foundational Statement is an excellent starting point for developing your speech. World Champion Speaker, Craig Valentine, calls it your “The foundation of your presentation.” I like to think of it as the foundation on which your speech is built. It can be a carefully worded sentence, question, or catchy phrase. It should echo the core message and purpose of your presentation. The sentence or phrase you choose should also be powerful, short, and memorable. Foundational statements with a rhythm always resonate a lot better with audiences.

Create your own Foundational Statements. Begin by testing some of your affirmations you use in your everyday conversations with friends and family members. Read their reactions as you continue to develop those that best represent you. Your foundational phrase will often take you much longer to develop than your speech.  The sentence, phrase, or question you develop should be no more than six to eight words or even shorter. Some great ones that readily come to mind are -: Do you validate? – Lance Miller – or Craig Valentine – Don’t get ready, stay ready. – Practice developing your own and work them into your presentations.

Every memorable speech has a Magic Moment.  Your magic moment can be a pause, a look, or a powerful statement. It is a defining moment in your speech that jumps out at your audience whenever anyone mentions just the title of that speech. What is also even more important is the placement of that moment. The statement you choose could be a current event that had a significant impact on the world stage. However, it should bear some relevance to your message. It should not be a distraction, abrupt, or contrary to the flow of your presentation. A magic moment that complements your foundational statement and message will always have a lingering effect on your audiences. This is yet another reason why that moment must be well placed. 

Your preparation often determines your success or failures when you are on the platform. It is when we are on the platform we all learn and grow. If you are well prepared, you will have many successes; however, it’s the failures that make us stronger and better presenters.  Let your failures be a reminder that you need to be better prepared for the next time and the future. Even on those days, when you think you were terrible, rest assured you may have brought a ray of sunshine into the life of someone in that audience if you prepared for that presentation. You see, after all, is said done, it is not about you, it is all about your audience. That’s why we prepare.

The Number One Public Speaking Rule

“Omne Trium Perfectum”

IMG_4521 (1)Make the Rule of Three your number one rule of Public Speaking, and your message will be heard, understood, and repeated always, and forever. The Rule of Three is a powerful technique, which dates back to the beginning of time. The Romans practiced and applied this writing and speaking principle. They referred to it with the Latin maxim – “Omne Trium Perfectum” which means, “Everything that comes in threes is perfect.” Today, speakers used trios to make their presentations more engaging, enjoyable, and a lot more memorable. It is a tried, tested, and proven writing principle that is effective when conveying information with brevity, rhythm, and recall.

This Rule of Three manifests itself in many different ways on or off the platform.  It can add humor to your content. When the third example of a trio runs contrary to the first one or two, if the third is a twist or that which is unexpected, the result is natural humor. Many speakers use this technique when adding humor to content. The Rule of Three can also be applied when speakers are delivering persuasive speeches to rally support. A classic example is Winston Churchill’s famous Blood, Sweat, and Tears speech. Note his skillful us of the power of threes in the line: – “I can promise you nothing but blood, sweat, and tears.” And who will ever forget -Friends, Romans, Countrymen” – William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar.

Many more examples of the power of the Rule of Three are documented in the scriptures, nursery rhymes, and fairy tale. Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and The Three Musketeers are all examples. Even in sport, the Rule of Three sets the standard. In Baseball – “Three Strikes and you are out.”  It is a well-established fact that humans can only hold a small amount of information in their short term or ‘active,’ memory. When content is presented in a group of threes, trios, a pattern is generated with a natural rhythm. The ordering and patterns created are easily stored in the brain for quick recall, from our short-term memory in “chunks.” Audiences remember those chunks and small patterns of information easier than longer phrases or sentences.

Speakers, we are all taught a speech should have an opening, body, and closing. Some Public Speaking coaches can look at a soft-copy or script of a speech and tell if that speech will be “Good Bad or Ugly.” As you prepare your content, practice, and apply the principle of threes. Make it your number one writing principle. Focus on the Rule of Three as you create your content. Try structuring your format like a play:- act one, act two, and act three.

Your act one, two and act three format will help your audience grasp your material quickly and even make the scenes you have created more visual. Your storyline and message will also be easier to follow. Practice using the “act one, act two, act three structure, and you will also find it helps with your delivery when you are on or off the platform. Make the Rule of Three your number one rule of Public Speaking, and your message will be heard, understood, and repeated, always and forever.

Your Magic Moment

A magic moment can be scripted or spontaneous

IMG_6565Every speech should have a magic moment; a moment not even passing of time will erase. Your magic moment can be a simple event like a long pause, a memorable sentence, or a phrase that connects with your audience, leaving all present with an unforgettable feeling. It is a feeling that adds your signature to the experience you shared with that audience. Magic moments can be the great equalizer. When a speaker  is able to produce one of those moments on the platform, it transcends all human boundaries. That moment serves as a reminder that we are all connected emotionally.

The six emotions that connect us all are happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust. We all respond to these emotions that dwell deep within us when we communicate. We share these emotions as we interact with each other in various aspects of our lives. Great orators past and present have used those emotions to set the stage for their memorable lines or events that make whatever followed that emotional connection in their speech timeless. What is magical about their moment is it may have been a brief or random event received or perceived in some unique way by their audience.

A magic moment can be scripted or spontaneous. Some of the best lines that immediately come to mind are those that were timely or unexpected. Although a response may have sounded spur of the moment, we associate that magic moment with that speaker forever. Long after the speaker has completed speaking, their words continue to linger. What matters most are the emotions speaker and audience rekindle. They often relate to the moment and the experience of their past. When speakers can make a deep emotional connection with their audience with words or deed, that shared experience makes for a unique magic moment.

The size of your magic moment does not matter. What matters most is the size of the impact it has on an audience; however, if the moment appears to be overdone, ill-timed, or not an appropriate fit for the speech or presentation, the magic is lost. When speakers can make their magic moment relate to the moments of others, an unbreakable bond is formed. It is a bond that makes us realize; we all belong to one world; we all are one people; we all share similar life experiences that live on forever in the hearts and minds of others, cemented in time as your magic moment.

Effective Listening

Make it your goal to be an effective listener.

20200326_110229Listening can be active or passive. It is the practice of taking what you hear and extracting meaning. Active listening is the ability to comprehend and repeat what you have heard. Passive listening is the practice of sitting quietly without responding verbally, as we so often do when listening to music, a podcast, or the news. But, have you ever given a second thought about what kind of listener you are. Are you an active or passive listener? Do you focus on what the speaker said or more about what the speaker meant to say? Those questions may answer if you are active or passive, but more importantly, if you are an Effective Listener.

Effective listening is more of an active skill. Effective listeners practice being present and are in the moment. Although effective listening requires the development of specific techniques for receiving, organizing, and interpreting information, when communicating with others, we should also be mindful that effective listening is an exchange of energy between speaker and listener. Listening and speaking is the act of giving and receiving the flow of thoughts, feeling, and energy, both positive and negative. How many times ‘your better half has had to ask, are you listening?

Even though listening is one of the essential communication skills we use most frequently, it is the skill we give our least attention. Have you ever had any training in effective listening? Effective listening can help us understand ourselves and better understand others. We all are guilty of not being in the moment when conversing to others. While we are listening, our brain will sometime begin to wander. Just as wandering eyes would never see, a wandering brain will seldom hear. Physically we may be there, but mentally if you are over there, wherever that over there is, you will not be practicing effective listening, and you would most likely hear – are you listening?

In the world of public speaking, there are fast talkers and slow listeners. Most speakers speak at an average rate of about 125 wpm- words per minute. Studies show we can process in the region of 400 wpm. This difference between speaking speed and thought speed means that when we listen to the average speaker, we are using only 25 percent of our mental capacity. Because we still have 75 percent to do something else, our minds will wander. I have found that if we practice slowing the brain down by controlling our breathing and energy, we will begin to see a significant improvement in how you receive, organize, and interpret what we hear. Make it your goal to be an effective listener. Effective listening is a skill that will help you identify vital information quickly and improve your daily interactions with others. The following are a few tips we all could practice to becoming an effective listener:

  • Respect the speaker’s point of view – Silence yours.
  • Relax and remain engaged – Breather naturally to control your energy.
  • Do not pass judgment – Remember nonverbal cues, body language, and gestures are indicators of how you are interpreting the information you are receiving.
  • Avoid interrupting. Wait for your turn. Ask clarifying questions to ensure understanding.
  • Give nonverbal cues to demonstrate your interest.
  • Conclude with a summary statement to demonstrate you clearly understood what the speaker said.

Whether you are an active or passive listener, it really doesn’t matter. What matters most is that you are present; you are in the moment, giving and receiving energy and above all, achieving your goal of being an effective listener.