Effective Business Presentations: Three Keys to Listening Success

Listening: It doesn’t sound hard to do, but you must hone your listening skills for effective business presentations. Unfortunately, due to all the distractions and technology surrounding us, concentrating on communicating with others is becoming increasingly difficult. We know that effective communication requires both speaking and listening. Most people have the speaking part down; few have mastered the art of listening.


When we don’t listen, communication quickly breaks down. The result? Lost sales, lost opportunities, misunderstandings, bad customer service and hurt feelings. What can you do to help improve your listening skills? Plenty. Consider the following strategies:


  1. Stop multi-tasking.

    In an attempt to get as much done as possible, we multi-task. Instead of talking on the phone while reading an e-mail and drafting a response, give your full attention to one communication. Focus only on your conversation. When it comes time to listen, you need to tune out all of the “noise” and make an effort to focus on the speaker. Get yourself mentally prepared for listening by removing distractions. Close your office door, turn off your computer monitor, disable your e-mail notification, and turn off music and cell phones. The first step in listening success is creating an environment conducive to listening.

  2. Listen to comprehend.

    Most people listen with the intent to reply. Try changing your intent from “listening to respond” to “listening to comprehend.” This is especially important when you’re listening to a client with a problem or concern. Force yourself to focus on what the speaker is telling you without formulating a response or excuses. This will ensure you truly understand what has occurred and what the client is requesting. When t they’ve finished talking, repeat back what was said to validate comprehension.

  3. Observe non-verbal cues.

    Truly listening requires you to pay attention to the words the speaker is saying as well as their non-verbal cues. That means you have to maintain good eye contact. For example: If someone is telling you they are excited about something with a scowl on their face, you may infer that they are not really happy about the news or event. Oftentimes, talking is our way of processing our thoughts. Combine what you see with what you hear, and you will get a lot more out of the conversation.


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