Use active listening to your advantage

Use active listening to your advantage

Poor listening skills create roadblocks to communication, especially when the single-minded goal of the speaker is to be heard.

A speaker communicates best while he or she listens actively, which helps them to respond more organically to the needs of the audience, while simultaneously expanding their understanding of the nuanced dialogue taking place. 

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Effective Communication Is Something You Learn, Not Something You're Born With

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Learning to communicate effectively

Effective communication is an attainable and deliberately acquired skill set, one that can be learned and practiced over time.

While it’s true that individual attributes can make these abilities easier to acquire, there is nothing that the world’s best communicators have that you can’t acquire through hard work.

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Smoke out original though

To become a more effective communicator, you must 'smoke out' original thought. Rather than conforming to the status quo, make a conscious decision to abandon overdone and clichéd material/

Citing tired platitudes might win you a few "cool points" in social media circles, but they will only take you so far if you're truly striving to effectuate change. 

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Real communication

... involves purposeful exchanges between all interested parties. 

If you’re doing all the talking, you’re not maximizing opportunities to create reciprocal understanding or expand the reach of your thought leadership. 

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Ask for feedback
It's often a good idea to send your draft material to someone you trust for honest, constructive feedback.

Practice it in front of someone with a good eye and ear for impeccable delivery. Whatever you do, don't become defensive. Throw your ego out the door and apply what you learn.

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Follow-up with your audience

Check in with your audience to make sure that they "got" what you intended to give:

  • Emphasize the main points of the presentation by strategically reintroducing them at the end.
  • Elicit feedback and answer audience questions, especially when a live Q&A session is part of the engagement. It allows the audience to flesh out any unanswered questions, resolve any misunderstandings and walk away with greater value.

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Real dialogue

Develop rapport by engaging in real dialogue.

People who engage in dynamic, interactive dialogues, rather than defaulting to stale monologues, establish trust, develop rapport and experience greater empathy from their audiences.

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George Bernard Shaw
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

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Prepare an impactful delivery

Once you’ve developed a fresh idea, work on organizing your message and polishing your delivery. Think about:

  • How  you will launch a stunning opening and closing line
  • How you will organize your material succinctly so that it is both moving and memorable (perhaps tweetable and repeatable)
  • Compelling details that should be included.
  • Your vocal and non-verbal communication (body language).

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RELATED IDEAS

  • People will retain structured information up to 40% more accurately than information that is presented without structure.
  • Having a clear structure for communicating helps you in 2 ways: it allows you to organize and remember your ideas, and it makes it easier for your listener to follow and stay focused.

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3 Ways Effective Communicators Structure Unforgettable Messages

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Only give advice when asked

Unsolicited advice sends a message that you're jumping in because they can't handle the problem. It leaves them feeling less competent and capable, undermining their ability to handle the situation themselves. 

To ensure that your advice is more helpful than harmful, only share it if you're explicitly asked.

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How to Give Great Advice

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Steve Job's effectiveness boiled down to this:

He inspired team members first so that they were driven to live up to his exacting standards when the situation called for it.

Get this equation backwards and you will wonder why  your employees disengage or drop out when you present tough challenges. 

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The Steve Jobs Equation for Tough Leadership

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