Audio tapes are available on just about any subject that impacts on networking. Some of these tapes, provided you listen carefully provide a wealth of useful information. Seminars, workshops and luncheon and dinner speakers offer still another opportunity to listen and learn. Your local service clubs and Chambers of Commerce frequently offer speakers and programs with special emphasis on networking related subjects. Nationally known speakers are touring major cities regularly, and you can keep up with their appearances in your local newspapers or by watching your business mail.
Remember, how successfully you network depends on how successfully you listen. Fine tuning your listening skills will make a difference in your networking.
Here Are Some Suggestions For Listening Better To Speakers:
To get the most out of any presentation you should be well rested. Dozing not only hinders what you can learn but is also impolite to the speaker.
You may get a chance to meet the speaker and to find a good seat, up front, where you will have good eye-contact.
Sit straight in your chair. Don't slouch. If you are at a desk, use it for note taking and not as a place to rest your elbows or head.
Have the materials you'll need. Don't depend on the sponsor to provide pencils and pads. Bring yours and be sure. Bring a small tape recorder, but make sure taping is permitted by the speaker.
Be Careful With Notes
It's good to take careful notes but you can become too absorbed in note taking and miss the message. Details and word-for-word notes are not as important as highlights.
Give The Speaker A Break
Try not to pre-judge the speaker because of dress, physical appearance, voice or mannerisms. What the speaker has to say should be of the most importance.
Most speakers allow time at the end of their presentations for questions from the floor. Don't be bashful. This is your opportunity to get the most from your investment and to get answers to those special questions you have.
Ask For A Copy Of The Speech
Many speakers have copies of their speech with them or will happily send you one. If you are particularly anxious to access the entire speech, ask for a copy.
Meet The Speaker
If, as suggested, you sat up front, you'll be able to be first in line to meet the speaker. You will be able to ask any personal questions you may have that you might not have wanted to ask from the floor. It is also your opportunity to say "thank you" or to make complimentary remarks.
When you get back to the office or home, get your notes in order while things are still fresh in your memory. Plan how to specifically carry out those great ideas and suggestions you gleaned from the speaker's presentation.
Here are some annoying listening habits that speakers have specifically found disturbing:
- Lack of eye contact
- Disagreeing with everything said.
- Holding side conversations.
- Correcting grammar or choice of words
- No response or feedback,
- Having bad breath/sitting too close,
- Completing sentence for person speaking.
- Statements unrelated to the topic, or already answered questions.
- Coughing or clearing the throat.
- Answering before question is finished.
- Allowing distractions to interfere.
- Showing complete lack of interest in what other person is saying.
- Appearing impatient.
- Ignoring other person to answer the phone.
- Clipping fingernails.
- Grooming - combing hair, putting on make-up.
- Saying you understand when you don't; doing it wrong as result.
- Blank stare.
- Walking away but claiming to be listening.
- Chewing gum.
- Looking at your watch frequently.
- Listening on the phone and asking you to keep talking.
- Abruptly changing the subject.
- Reading the mail, newspapers, magazines, reports, etc.
- Shuffling papers.
- Nervous mannerisms, finger topping, twisting hair, knuckle cracking.
- Using a cell phone.
Don't let your eyes wander or your head turn aimlessly about. Keep from drumming your fingers, snapping gum, mindlessly handling writing instruments, etc.
Facts are important, but only as stepping stones to ideas leading to major points. Don't keep your mind so occupied over minor tidbits that you miss the speaker's overall message.
Poor posture communicates poor listening; so don't slouch. The good listener's posture is alert, with eyes and attention concentrated on the speaker, regardless of whether the listener is standing or seated.
The burden of listening is on the listener. Don't automatically condemn a speaker or the subject as uninteresting; don't prejudice your listening because you don't like the speaker's looks, hair, voice, etc.
Whatever your feelings about the speaker or his or her subject, hear the speaker out first. Don't allow yourself to become irritated or over-stimulated by what is said or how it is said - otherwise the message gets lost in the flash of emotions.
Don't pretend to be getting the message while your mind has mode a mental detour and is busy with completely different ideas. If the speaker tries to interact with you at this point, you'll find yourself completely lost.
Obsessive note taking:
You can't try to write down, word for word, all that a speaker is saying and expect to hear the message. Just jot down the highlights or key ideas and pay more attention to hearing the message rather than trying to write down incomplete ideas.
Don't waste your listening time. You can listen faster than the speaker can speak, so anticipate the speaker's points, evaluate and mentally summarize as your listen.