GM: MODULE 4 – UNIT 8

EFFECTIVE SPEAKING

 

Plan Your Speech

Before you address any audience, even in a meeting with your colleagues, you have to plan what you are going to say/sign. If it is a formal debate, you will do your planning in writing and use cue cards to guide you. If it is a more impromptu speech, such as in a meeting, where you voice your opinion, you still plan what you want to say, even though it is mostly in your mind and you do not spend so much time in the planning process.

The steps you follow are the same steps as you follow when planning to write a piece of text

Determine what you want to say/sign

How you want to say/sign it?

What visual aids will you use?

What tone and register /NMF’swill you use?

What devices will you use to reinforce your message, such as rhetorical devices, NMF’s sign size, etc?

Prepare speech cards – these are little cards with lines on where you write your main points. The general rules are: not more than one main point per card and not more than 12 to 15 cards per speech. If you have too many cards, your speech is too long and it becomes boring.

These days, public speakers use computer presentations for public speaking and the main points of the presentation then takes the place of the cue card.

In the case of a formal speech, you will memorise your speech/signing and then you will practice – in front of a mirror, in front of your friends and family, until you can deliver your speech fluently. This is what all public speakers do – they put the speech together, memorise it and then they practice, practice, practice.

As with everything else in life, the more you practice, the better you become.

Forms of Communication

There are many forms of communication such as personal-, mass-, intercultural- and organisational communication.

Personal communication is when you communicate with yourself or with one or two other people.

Organisational communication takes place within an organisation.

Mass communication is when you are communicating with many people at the same time. Newspapers, radio and TV are examples of mass communication.

Intercultural communication can be personal, mass or organisational communication, but takes cultural differences into account.

Furthermore, communication can be verbal as well as non-verbal, both of which will be discussed.

The purpose of communicating is to get your message across to the audience. In order to do this, you will make use of certain techniques that are aimed at capturing and holding the attention of the audience.

Verbal Communication

The way that you speak can reinforce your message and influence your audience.

When you speak in the same tone, pitch, volume and pace all the time it becomes boring for the audience and they can fall asleep. If you listen to public speakers, TV and radio commentators, you will notice that they vary the tone, pitch, volume and pace when they speak, in order to capture and maintain the interest of the audience.

The tones, pitch, pace and volume of your voice can determine how a listener will interpret what you are saying.

By controlling these vocal characteristics you can become a more effective speaker.

The tone is the sound of your voice, e.g. bright or deep, and expresses your feeling or mood. A bright tone will indicate feelings of excitement, joy, etc. while a deep tone will indicate feelings of placidity or sorrow. So when you are addressing a serious subject, your will use a deeper tone of voice, while a lighter tone of voice is appropriate for a more light hearted subject.

Pitch is determined by the tension on your vocal cords, i.e. how high or low your voice sounds. Generally you will speak at a high pitch when excited and at a lower pitch when relaxed.

The pace or speed at which you speak can also influence your audience. When you are telling someone that you have won the Lotto you will talk much faster than when you are telling him that you cannot attend a major sporting event.

You need to adapt the volume of your voice to the environment. Factors such as:

being indoors or outdoors,

number of listeners in a room,

the size of the room,

background noise and

availability of amplification will determine the volume at which you speak.

The volume of your voice can also indicate whether you are excited or relaxed, angry or friendly. When you are saying something important, you will increase the volume of your voice in order to stress the importance of the point you are making.

Pause is a useful technique to stress important points in your presentation. When you pause for a couple of seconds just after making an important point, the audience knows that what you have said is important.

Using keywords is another technique to stress important points. In every presentation, not everything you say will be equally important. Some points will be main points and others will be extra information to explain what you are saying. You will use the main points to identify keywords in your presentation. When you get to the keywords you will stress them by adjusting the tone, pitch, volume and pace of your voice. This will give the audience the cue that the keywords and the point you made are important.

In the case of SASL, you will have to vary the size of your signs when you want to indicate an increase in volume in order to stress a main point. You should also use NMF’s (non manual features) to show important points, key words, tone and pitch. Varying the size of the sign and NMF’s will help you to capture and retain the interest of your audience.

Now that you know what it means to vary the tone, pitch, volume and pace of the way you speak, you can use these methods to:

Enhance the meaning of what you are saying to the audience

Respond appropriately to the audience, even in differing circumstances

Body Language

Nonverbal Communication

There are many different types of nonverbal communication but for the purpose of this unit standard we are going to deal with nonverbal communication that directly interacts with verbal communication.

When communicating verbally you can express different feelings without even noticing or voicing these feelings. It is important that you know what these signals are and to be aware that you are also communicating these signals to the people you are communicating with. Just as important is that you recognise these signals that others communicate to you.


Some of these signals are:

Handshake

This normally conveys a first impression of the person you are dealing with. A firm handshake will illustrate confidence and gets the other person’s attention.

Hold on to his hand a little longer than is necessary to keep his attention. A sloppy handshake will, in contrast, can be interpreted as a sign of insincerity and/or laziness.

Eye Contact

Much can be interpreted by eye contact or the lack thereof.

Direct eye contact and a friendly expression will indicate openness and honesty. Always look the other person in the eye and maintain eye contact to show the speaker that you are listening.

Lack of eye contact can mean that the listener is not paying attention, is bored with what you are saying or is uncomfortable with what you are talking about. Not making eye contact can also indicate dishonesty and distrust.

Gestures

It is normal to make hand gestures during conversation to emphasise a point, but there are other gestures that convey your inner feelings without you making them consciously.

These include hand-, foot- and leg activity. Restless hands or shaking of the legs or feet can be a sign of agitation or nervousness. Of course, rude gestures are not allowed when you are giving a presentation.

Positive gestures can include raising your hands when making an important point. When you are using visual aids, you can also point at the specific poster, model or whatever visual aid you are using, or point at the objects in the poster or model that you are discussing. This directs the attention of the audience to the visual aid and helps them to understand what you are saying.

Posture

Sitting or standing straight will indicate that the listener is alert and paying attention, while slouching in a chair or leaning against a wall or door is a sign that the listener is not really interested in what is going on.

When you are giving a presentation it is important that you stand up straight and move around a little rather than staying in one place all the time. If it is possible, you can also move towards the audience or interact with the audience directly by moving between them.

Your posture should also be positive and not threatening towards the audience. When you invade someone’s personal space or point directly to them with your finger while leaning forward, the other person can feel threatened. On the other hand, you can walk to within one or two paces from the other person, look the person in the eye, smile and make your point in a non-threatening way.

Touch

Be very careful of this one as it can very easily be misinterpreted, especially in a working- or business environment. A hug and a “high-five” between winning team mates is an expression of victory or celebration, while stroking a secretary’s neck when dictating a letter to her can be seen as sexual harassment.

During or after the delivery of your presentation, you must be wary of touching members of the audience, since your intentions can be easily misunderstood.

Distance

All of us need personal space and when someone else invades that space we feel uncomfortable and threatened. Personal space is the distance between yourself and the person you are talking to.

The space between close friends or relatives will be much closer than the space maintained by a company director and a subordinate or opposing parties in an argument.

Determine what personal space is appropriate in a situation and maintain that space. Never intrude on someone else’s personal space, as this will make the other person feel threatened and distract his attention from what is communicated.

Nonverbal Messages

You can use your own body language(in the case of SASL, use the size of the sign and NMF’S) to enhance your verbal message in the following ways;-

A nonverbal message reinforces the verbal message by adding to its meaning. Banging your hand on the table while reprimanding someone conveys a stronger message than words alone, adds emphasis to your statement and captures the listener’s attention.

A nonverbal message can complement a verbal message when it conveys the same meaning. A greeting in a friendly tone of voice, accompanied by a warm smile will compliment your verbal message.

A nonverbal message may substitute the verbal message. When you arrive home and are irritable and impatient it is not necessary to tell anyone that you had a terrible day at work. Likewise a passionate hug and kiss will tell your spouse that you love him/her without you having to say it.

Nonverbal behaviour functions to regulate the flow of verbal interaction. Slight hand movements, eye contact, tone of voice, nodding of the head and other nonverbal behaviour tells the recipient to talk, repeat a statement, hurry up or finish the conversation. For example, the chairperson at a meeting uses eye contact or hand gestures instead of words to indicate who’s turn it is to speak.

A nonverbal message can accentuate what is said. While addressing an audience a speaker may talk louder and wave his finger in the air to stress a point that he is making. Speakers at political meetings are very good at this.

A nonverbal message may contradict the verbal message. This happens when a speaker says one thing but does another. A new company executive about to make his first presentation to the board of directors may claim not to be nervous despite his trembling hands and sweating forehead. Contradictory cues often tell us when someone is being sarcastic or merely teasing.

Remember to smile at your audience: they are more likely to respond to a friendly speaker than an unfriendly one.

Barriers To Effective Communication

Many barriers to effective communication exist and can be detrimental to effective communication. Following are a few that have bearing on what is dealt with in this unit standard.

Poor interpersonal skills

Poor interpersonal skills include poor listening and/or sensitivity to nonverbal communication.

We have discussed listening skills and nonverbal communication at length. When you deal with customers or the general public, you have no excuse for not listening to what the other person is saying/signing or listening to non verbal communication. It is part of you job and you have to do it. When a client is discussing something with you, the client is entitled to your undivided attention.

Always remember: you cannot listen while you are talking. In order for you to listen, you have to keep quiet and pay attention.

Failure to identify the needs of the receiver

This happens when you listen to only part of what the person is saying and then start jumping to conclusions instead of listening to the speaker until he has stopped talking. Only then can you come to conclusions, which you have to check with the client anyway, by repeating the issue as you understand it to the client.

“Am I correct in understanding that you want ….. done” or “As I understand, the problem is …..”

Different cultural backgrounds

The audience will not always take differences in cultural backgrounds into account, but you have to. You are not allowed to judge anyone you are talking to because their cultural background is different to yours.

When you are giving a presentation, it is part of your job and your duty to take the audience’s different cultural backgrounds into consideration. During the planning stage, you have to ensure that your presentation does not include material that can be offensive to cultures other than your own.

If you don’t know much about other cultural beliefs, you have to make an effort to find out what they are. This will make future communication with the audience easier.

Lack of intercultural understanding

This is a major problem in our country today. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with other people, you have to ensure that you do not suffer from a lack of intercultural understanding. Just as your culture is important to you, their cultures are important to them. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand that it is not acceptable to offend people only because their culture is different to yours.

Messages with too much/little information

Many people find it difficult to express themselves clearly when they are under stress. They will usually either give you too much or too little information.

You have to be aware of this, so that you can:

Focus on the important and relevant issues when a person gives too much information

Ensure that you get all the relevant information when a person gives too little information

“I was mugged, they hit me over the head, there was blood all over the place, I had to go to the hospital to get stitches and my handbag was stolen.” This is an example of too much information. You have to find out what the problem is that has to be addressed.

“My handbag was stolen.” This is too little information and you have to find out what the issue is that the person wants resolved.

Irritating mannerisms that prevent people from listening

When a person is tapping on the desk or tapping a pencil against his teeth the whole time that you or he is talking, or when someone shakes his knee or twitches his shoulder all the time.

Some people say “You know…” a lot, others say “ah…” all the time while talking.

There are many more examples of irritating mannerisms that you should not adopt while giving a presentation. On the other hand, when someone in the audience displays these mannerisms, you have to ensure that they do not distract you from listening to what the person is saying.

Use of insensitive or abusive language by the sender or receiver

This is never acceptable, but can sometimes happen when a person is angry or irritated and perceives that his problem is not going to be addressed properly.

The best way to handle this is to calm the person down without saying anything about his insensitive or abusive language.

You will find in most instances that the person will apologise as soon as he can see that his problem is going to be addressed in a way that is satisfactory to him.

You must always be aware of how you talk to other people in order to ensure that you do not use insensitive or abusive language, as many people stop listening when you talk to them in a way that they don’t like.

When giving a presentation, you must be able to identify these barriers and overcome these barriers by using the skills that you have developed. You must also ensure that you do not erect barriers to communication by one of the above actions.

Reinforce the Message

Before addressing an audience you need to plan what you are going to communicate to the audience. It is essential that you prepare a detailed and complete plan of your address in writing, outlining the introduction, body and conclusion. Refer to these notes to assist you to keep track of main ideas and adhere to timelines.

This topic has been covered comprehensively in the previous modules and unit standards. Refer to your notes when drawing up a plan for your verbal communication.

Visual Aids

During the planning of your address you must also identify where you are going to make use of visual aids like:

Cue cards: these are smaller than posters and contain only one visual cue. If you are doing a presentation to children about the importance of brushing teeth, you might have a cue card with a tooth, one with a toothbrush and one with toothpaste. You will show these to the audience at the appropriate place during your presentation. At the end of the presentation, you would summarise and at the appropriate place show the cue card without saying anything, encouraging the audience to name the object. You would show the card with the tooth, for example and maybe ask the audience: “Every morning you must brush your …” and then wait for the audience to supply the missing word.

Posters: we have all seen posters of music starts, movies, videos and so on. A poster that you design for a presentation does not have to be as elaborate as one of these but if you plan it correctly it can have just as much impact.

Models, etc. We have all seen models of trains, cars, houses, large buildings and so on. These are very effective visual aids and you should use them whenever appropriate and when you can get hold of one.

Handouts And Multimedia

You can also make use of handouts given to the audience. Handouts are notes about your presentation that you give to the audience.

Multi-media visual aids include:

Flipcharts. You can use the flipchart to make notes during your presentation, much as your facilitator does during the lesson, or you can write out your flipchart sheets beforehand and put them up at the appropriate time.

Whiteboard: same use as a flipchart, however you have to rub out what you have written as soon as you want to write something new.

Overhead projector. You have to prepare the slides beforehand and show them at the appropriate time in your presentation. Your facilitator makes use of this visual aid during class.

Data projector. It works like an overhead projector, but is connected to a computer and displays visual aids that you have prepared on the computer beforehand.

Slide shows. These are prepared on a computerised presentation programme and can be shown on individual computers or through a data projector. You can, of course, also use photographic slides in a slide projector, although this method has become somewhat outdated.

Video presentations. These are video clips or training videos prepared especially for the purpose of your presentation.

Feedback From The Audience

When addressing an audience you must always strive to capture and retain their interest and attention.

It is fairly easy to determine whether you have the attention of the audience by taking note of verbal and nonverbal feedback from the audience. Verbal and nonverbal clues to communication has been covered has already been covered in a previous section. Refer to you notes.

If you are the participant in a debate you can judge from questions or remarks whether the audience is following you or not.

A person asking questions frequently indicates that he is following what you are saying and participating, while one who just sits there because he has to be there and doesn’t participate at all indicates that the person is not really interest in what you have to say.

Likewise if you are addressing a meeting you can observe the body language of the audience to indicate their level of participation or attention/interest.

A person that looks around and at his watch every now and then and follows it up with a big yawn is not listening to you with attention.

Some people will actually fall asleep.

On the other hand the person keeping eye contact with you and occasionally taking notes has your undivided attention.

During presentations it is of utmost importance to get feedback from the audience. If they are not asking questions or participating in the presentation you can ask them questions. Do not embarrass them, however. It is usually good practice to ask a question and then let someone from the audience answer the question. If no one answers, you can answer the question and then ask someone if they agree. This is only one example of many, watch what other people are doing and, if you like the technique, adopt it.

If you have the interest and attention of your audience you know that what you are saying and conveying through your body language is getting through to your audience, but if you realise that your audience is not paying attention you need to employ some or all of the following strategies to capture their attention.

Repeat and emphasise key words and phrases to stress their importance. You do this by adjusting the volume and pitch of your voice.

Adjust the pace at which you speak to compliment what you are saying. You can talk slower and emphasise words to make a bigger impact on the audience.

Pause for a second or two after saying something of importance to give the audience a chance to think about what you have said. The audience will make the connection that what you have said is important. Increase the volume and raise the pitch of your voice to emphasise important facts.

Ask rhetorical questions: a rhetorical question is a question that does not require an answer.

Repeating words and phrases is very effective if you want to emphasise the importance of the statement. Sir Winston Churchill made very good use of repetition in his famous speeches during World War 11.

On 22 May 1940, after the British soldiers had been evacuated from Dunkirk, he said:

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…

On 13 May 1940, just after he was elected prime Minister, he said that he had one aim:

Victory – victory at all costs, victory in spite of terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be.”

Of course, he said many more memorable things and it is worthwhile reading about him. He was the Prime Minister of Britain during World War 11 and he was a rather colourful character – just what the British needed during wartime.

Political speakers are very good at capturing and holding the attention of the audience: sometimes they bang their hands or make use of exaggerated gestures to emphasize certain points they want you to think is important. They also adjust tone, pitch and volume to emphasize what they are saying. Another good example is a musical awards ceremony: have you noticed how the presenter drags out the moment of the announcement and then dramatises the announcement: “And the WINNER is….. SO AND SO FOR ….”

By mastering these techniques you can improve the effectiveness of your verbal communication. Learn from public speakers and apply their methods. You must, however, be careful of dramatising too much in the business world. Use their techniques, but tone it down – don’t shout or bang your hands on the dias or desk, instead talk louder and faster or slower to emphasize what your are saying.

As indicated previously, body language is a form of nonverbal communication and you as speaker can deduce what the level of interest of the audience is by observing their body language.

Likewise you can use body language to enhance what you are saying.

Hand gestures,

Facial expressions,

Posture, etc.

should be used by the speaker to reinforce important ideas and messages.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the ways in which you can involve the audience in your presentation. To do this, however, you have to know the different types of questions and how to use them.

Certain types of questions will be more helpful than others:

Open Questions

These generally begin ‘How …?’ ‘What …?’ “Where …?’ “Who …?’ They require a fuller answer than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. They may be used to:

Not SupportedGain information: ‘What happened as a result?’

Explore thoughts, feelings, attitudes and opinions: ‘What were you hoping to achieve?’ “How are you feeling having done that?’ “What’s your view on that?’

Consider hypothetical situations and explore options: ‘What would help?’; ‘How might you deal with …?’; ‘What are the possible options for …?’

‘Why?’ questions are useful open questions, but can sometimes be less helpful if they sound too much as if they are judgmental – seeking justification for action. In such circumstances they can sound moralising: ‘Why did you do that?’

Closed questions

These invite a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer and as such may unhelpfully close down the options for responding: ‘Did you not think of that possibility?’; ‘Do you get on well?’

Repeated use of closed questions can take the discussion along a downward spiral of awkward communication with the client saying less and less and you becoming pressured to ask more and more questions.

Not SupportedThere are times when closed questions are useful as a questioning summary: ‘So, overall, you are saying you were pleased with that session?’

Elaboration questions

Not SupportedThese may or may not be open questions, and are used to encourage the person to elaborate on what has already been said: ‘Can you give me an example?’; ‘Can you say a little more about that?’

Not SupportedLeading questions

These suggest to the audience that a particular answer is expected, and that there are particular beliefs or values that should be held: ‘Do you really think that …?’ ‘Shouldn’t you be considering …?’

Multiple questions

Several different questions are asked in one sentence leading to potential confusion for both the client and yourself: ‘Is it that you feel … or that you think it would be better if … or perhaps that she should …?’.

Usually, you would use a mixture of the above questions when trying to elicit a response from the client.

Then, of course, you have to

Listen to the answer,

Pay attention to person’s body language for any hidden messages.

Active Listening

Now that you know how to capture and hold the audience’s attention and get feedback from the audience, you have to apply active listening skills to hear and understand what they are saying. You have to pay attention and focus on what the speaker says in order to respond appropriately to their comments and questions.

Listening should be active, not passive. There are several ways in which listeners can exert control in a discussion and prevent more powerful, educated or argumentative speakers from dominating the negotiation.

Ask searching questions and stay with them until the replies satisfy you

Restate the speaker’s points as you understand them, forcing him/her to clarify cloudy areas

Do not respond, or continue to make non‑committal responses until the speaker develops his argument more specifically

Paraphrase the speaker’s words, exposing the hidden cultural assumption and/or feelings of superiority.

Ask questions that will bring the discussion back to the basic conflict of interests if this is being blurred.

Active listening is a skill and is as important as giving orders in obtaining results.

Give your full attention to what is being said.

Make sure that you really understand.

Listen between the lines.

Look for non-verbal clues.

Mentally summarise and evaluate objectively.

Be empathetic.

Determine whether he expects: guidance, support, motivation, action or silence.

 

What Makes A Good Listener?

This is actually a question of feedback. Good listeners use a variety of non-verbal and minimal cues to keep the other person talking. These include the use of phrases such as:

“Yes”

“I understand”

“And then what”

“Tell me more”

“If I understand you correctly…”

Although the above illustrates how your natural reactions to different states of emotion can influence the manner in which you speak, it must be mentioned that you can intentionally alter some or all of these factors to enhance what you are saying.

Do not to overdo such variations as this might have exactly the opposite effect on what you are trying to communicate.

When communicating with someone else you must always strive to do it as naturally and evenly as possible. Be yourself!!

Continuity And Interaction

During your address you need to maintain continuity and interaction throughout. This can be achieved by employing the following techniques.

Respond to queries from the audience. This promotes participation from the audience and helps to maintain interest and attention.

Repeat information to stress importance and to allow for time to take notes.

Reword important ideas to ensure repetition of the message. This means that you say the same thing more than once, using different words.

Ask questions to promote interaction and ensure understanding of the idea or message.

Refer to cue cards to refresh listeners’ memory.

Use timing techniques – coordinate use of visual and other aids to be appropriate to the message or idea.

Respond to cues that audience contact is being lost. Employ techniques discussed thus far to overcome and remedy this problem.

Audience interest and attention

Politicians, such as our president, have their speeches prepared for them by someone else and they then read the speech, as you can see when you watch them on TV. This is fine if you are the president. If you are not, you had better not read your speech in front of your audience – you will lose their attention immediately.

When addressing an audience you must always strive to capture and retain their interest and attention.

It is fairly easy to determine whether you have the attention of the audience by taking note of verbal and nonverbal feedback from the audience. Verbal and nonverbal clues to communication has been covered extensively in the previous modules and sections. Refer back to your notes for full information.If you are the participant in a debate you can judge from questions or remarks/signs whether the audience is following you or not.

A person asking/signing questions frequently indicates that he is following what you are saying/signing and is participating, while one who just sits there because he has to be there and doesn’t participate at all indicates that the person is not really interest in what you have to say/sign.

Likewise if you are addressing a meeting you can observe the body language of the audience to indicate their level of participation or attention/interest.

A person that looks around and at his watch every now and then and follows it up with a big yawn is not listening to you with attention.

Some people will actually fall asleep.

On the other hand the person keeping eye contact with you and occasionally taking notes has your undivided attention.

During presentations it is of utmost importance to get feedback from the audience. If they are not asking/signing questions or participating in the presentation you can ask/sign questions. Do not embarrass them, however. It is usually good practice to ask/sign a question and then let someone from the audience answer the question. If no one answers, you can answer the question and then ask someone if they agree. This is only one example of many, watch what other people are doing and, if you like the technique, adopt it.

If you have the interest and attention of your audience you know that what you are saying/signing and conveying through your body language is getting through to your audience, but if you realise that your audience is not paying attention you need to employ some or all of the following strategies to capture their attention.

Repeat and emphasise key words and phrases to stress their importance. You do this by adjusting the volume and pitch of your voice, the size of your signs and using NMF’s..

Adjust the pace at which you speak to compliment what you are saying/signing. You can talk/sign slower and emphasise words to make a bigger impact on the audience.

Pause for a second or two after saying/signing something of importance to give the audience a chance to think about what you have said/signed. The audience will make the connection that what you have said/signed is important. Increase the volume and raise the pitch of your voice or size of your sign to emphasise important facts.

Ask rhetorical questions: a rhetorical question is a question that does not require an answer.

By mastering these techniques you can improve the effectiveness of your verbal communication. Learn from public speakers and apply their methods. You must, however, be careful of dramatising too much in the business world. Use their techniques, but tone it down – don’t shout or bang your hands on the dias or desk, instead talk louder and faster or slower to emphasize what your are saying.

As indicated previously, body language is a form of nonverbal communication and you as speaker can deduce what the level of interest of the audience is by observing their body language. Likewise you can use body language to enhance what you are saying. Hand gestures, Facial expressions, Posture, etc. should be used by the speaker to reinforce important ideas and messages.

During your address you need to maintain continuity and interaction throughout. This can be achieved by employing the following techniques.

Respond to queries from the audience. This promotes participation from the audience and helps to maintain interest and attention.

 

Repeat information to stress importance and to allow for time to take notes.

 

Reword important ideas to ensure repetition of the message. This means that you say the same thing more than once, using different words.

Ask/sign questions to promote interaction and ensure understanding of the idea or message.

Refer to cue cards to refresh listeners’ memory.

Use timing techniques – coordinate use of visual and other aids to be appropriate to the message or idea.

Respond to cues that audience contact is being lost. Employ techniques discussed thus far to overcome and remedy this problem.

Improve Your Communication Skills

Pointers before you speak:

If you are uncertain ask questions. Do not make assumptions by hearing what you want to hear. Make sure what you hear is correct.

Be well prepared. If you know what you are speaking about you command attention and respect.

Choose your words carefully as they not only express your thoughts, they also impress the listener or receiver. The impression your words make motivates the reaction you receive.

Think before you speak. Organise your thoughts and know what you want to say. Don’t just ramble on.

Use clear simple language. Select vocabulary that your audience will relate to and understand.

Be specific in your choice of words so that your message or information can be correctly interpreted. Assumptions result in the incorrect interpretation of your message, your answer or the information you are sharing.

Use correct pronunciation. Use your mouth, relax your jaw and move your lips to help you pronounce words correctly.

Watch your pace, don’t speak too fast and don’t speak too slowly either.

Watch your stance, or the way in which you stand and move about. Certain movements such as fidgeting and twitching can be irritating.

Remember that your body language, and your voice control, together with your facial expressions, especially your eyes, is the mirror of your emotions. They will tell whether you are nervous, afraid, uncertain, happy, sad, angry, irritated, uncertain, confident, satisfied, positive, hesitant, insolent, sure of yourself, etc.

Be polite and considerate. Respect the thoughts and opinions of others even if you do not agree.

The pitch of your voice must be acceptable, not too high or too low.

Listen to the rise and fall (inflection) of your voice. Do not speak on the same note it becomes monotonous or boring.

The tone of your voice creates the atmosphere or setting for the conversation. It could be friendly or aggressive, sad or happy. The tone determines the response or the amount of interaction you will receive.

Make use of the pause especially if you want to make a point or stress an important fact. But don’t pause too often.

Avoid making use of qualifiers such as repeatedly using “OK” or “Um or Er and Ah”

Listen before you answer

Never chip in or interrupt to say something.

Improve your listening skills

1.   Stop talking: You cannot listen if you are talking.

2.   Put the talker at ease: Help a person feel free to talk, create a permissive environment.

3.   Show a talker that you want to listen: Look and act interested. Do not read your mail while someone talks. Listen to understand rather than to oppose.

4.   Remove distractions: Don’t doodle, tap, or shuffle papers. Will it be quieter if you shut the door?

5.   Empathise with talkers: Try to help yourself see the other person’s point of view.

6.   Be patient: Allow plenty of time. Do not interrupt a talker. Don’t start for the door or walk away.

7.   Hold your temper: An angry person takes the wrong meaning from words.

8.   Go easy on argument and criticism: These put people on the defensive, and they may “clam up” or become angry. Do not argue: Even if you win, you lose!

9.   Ask questions: This encourages a talker and shows that you are listening. It helps to develop points further.

10.   Stop talking!: This is the first and last, because all other guidelines depend on it. You cannot do an effective listening job while you are talking.

Take notes and ask the speaker to repeat phrases that are not clear

 

Surveys show individuals listen about 25% of the time.

 

You recall only 50% of what you hear when you actually listen.

 

70% of all misunderstandings happen because people do not listen to each other.

 

If we do not upgrade our listening skills we increase the potential for conflict to occur.

What can we do? Focus on developing the following will go a long way to building good working relationships and minimising misunderstandings.

 

1.   Patience

 

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2.   Focus

 

 

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3.   Open-minded

 

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Two men were walking along a crowded sidewalk in a downtown business area. Suddenly one exclaimed, “Listen to the lovely sound of that cricket!” But the other could not hear. He asked his companion how he could detect the sound of the cricket amidst the din of people and traffic. The first man, who was a zoologist, had trained himself to listen to the voices of nature, but he did not explain. He simply took a coin out of his pocket and dropped it on the sidewalk, whereupon a dozen people began to look about them. “ We hear,” he said “ what we listen for.”

When You Are The Communicator

When you are the communicator of the message, it is your responsibility to ensure that the format of the message is suitable for the recipient. It is also your responsibility to ensure that the recipient understands the message.

Think about the message that you want to convey

Think about the format of the messsage – written or verbal

Think about the language of the message, especially when technical terms are involved

Consider cultural differences and the effect this will have on the message and the recipient

Consider the needs of the recipient of the message

Do not assume that the recipient has a certain level of knowledge about the subject

Ensure that you give the recipient enough information

Ensure that the recipient knows which part of the message is important

Be aware of your own perceptions when you think about the content of the message

Communicate directly with the recipient where possible

The best way to determine whether the recipient has received and understood the message is not by asking: Do you understand?”, as the recipient is likely to say Yes. Rather have the recipient repeat the message in his/her own words. Then you can check whether the message was understood.

 

October 1, 2015

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