Posted: August 6th, 2013






How important is “Listening”, both from the speaker’s perspective and the audiences’ perspective, in order for a speaker to give an “authentic” speech?

A speaker looks at the reaction of the audience to determine if the people are listening. He or she will look at little signs that will indicate that the audience is listening. Audience response determines the effectiveness of the message. In most presentations, audiences do not respond verbally, but they often use non-verbal communication. The non-verbal communication that the audience displays can help the speaker know whether he is holding their attention, or whether, he has already lost their interest. The speaker needs to respond to these non-verbal messages appropriately. If the speaker perceives that he has lost the interest and attention of the audience, then he needs to find ways of recapturing them. He needs to find ways of engaging the audience in the presentation. Listening enables the speaker to connect with the audience. It provides the speaker with the feedback he uses to determine whether his presentation is effective. Listening enables the speaker to know the changes needed in his presentation. The audience knows that without listening, they will miss what the speaker is saying.

Many speakers struggle to remain authentic to their audience. They practice for long before making their presentations. Although they utilize all the strategies they have learnt, they know that it is easy for them to seem methodical and rehearsed irrespective of how many rules and strategies they apply. Listening becomes important for both the audience and the speaker in this case. Listening enables the speaker to remain authentic. It enables him to give her presentation at the present, and not as some rehearsed speech. This is important for the speaker and the audience. The audience can relate to the speaker and to the presentation when they hear something that concerns them at the time. This enables them to engage with the speaker as he or she is making the presentation.

Listening enables the speaker to make her presentation with passion. It is easy for the audience to tell when the speaker is passionate about something. Passion contributes to the speaker’s authenticity. Passion does not just involve how the speaker is reacting physically, such as using gestures and speaking loudly. It is what drives the speaker to make the presentation. The audience can judge the speaker’s interest in the presentation by the content and thought he places when making the presentation. Passion enables the audience to deliver his presentation with emotion. The speaker does not shy away from including emotion in his conversation. Emotion does not only entail moving the audience with sad stories, but it also includes making the audience laugh and inspiring them to do something. This makes the presentation memorable for the audience. The audience can tell when the speaker is being rehearsed and when he is being authentic by watching their expressions. Authentic speakers are open in their conversations.

Listening enables the speaker to act naturally when giving her presentation. Listeners who appear rehearsed and methodological do not know when to act naturally when responding to the audience. For instance, they will find it more challenging to deal with emerging issues and concerns in their quest to remain perfect. Authentic speakers are not afraid of showing their limitations. They know how to get out of tough situations, and they know how to appreciate complements in a genuine manner. They know how to approach the audience, and the means they are going to captivate them. An authentic listener understands that he has to find ways to connect with the audience during the entire presentation. Listening enables the speaker to know when the audience is diverting from the presentation.

Observing the audience emotions is part of listening. Listening enables the audience to gauge the audience’s emotions as she is making the presentation. An authentic speaker will find ways of dealing with the audience based on the emotions the people express. An authentic listener will not continue making his presentation in the same way when he realizes that his audience is concerned and worried about something. For instance, an executive making a presentation to a group of employees who are worried and insecure about their position in the company will not go on making a presentation of how the employees need to work hard to realize economic growth and enhanced production. Instead, she will first reassure the employees of their position within the company. The authentic speaker will look for ways to engage the audience and gain their attention.

Listening is critical to the audience, as it gives them a chance to express themselves. The audience may not know how they can express themselves verbally. Therefore, they use non-verbal communication to express themselves to the speaker. When they listen, they are able to communicate to the speaker and show her when they do not understand something, or when they are concerned about something. They are able to show the speaker when he is captivating and when he has captured their attention. Listening makes it easy for a member of the audience, who might feel intimidated, to express himself or herself to the speaker. For instance, a new employee might feel intimidated in front of a speaker who is in a senior position. He might, not be able to express his lack of understanding verbally during the presentation. However, the speaker can tell what he is doing using his non-verbal communication. Therefore, listening is necessary for the speaker and the audience. It shows that one can use other channels to listen, and not just the spoken words.

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