Make Your Audience Sit Up and Listen When You Speak

Opinion

Have you ever wondered why it is that when some people speak everyone around them sits up and listens, and they have everyone’s full attention – even if they are not talking about something serious. In the workplace, communicating effectively is a skill that will take your career to the next level. A lot of people who are brilliant workers, with the greatest skills often get overshadowed by those that have mastered the skill of communicating well, even though they are not the most brilliant of workers.

Learning how to communicate effectively is quite simple, as it is small habits that hinder you from getting people to listen to you. If you can master how to avoid certain things, you will find that people will listen up when you speak in the boardroom and in the workplace in general. According to top-rated international speaker Julian Treasure, there are a number of habits you need to move away from to ensure that you are heard when you speak. If you want to make an impact when you speak, you need to come across as authentic and honest, because this portrays you as a credible person that people would like to be associated with.

Firstly, voice projection is of the utmost importance. In as much as people all possess different types of voices, studies have found that the human brain is naturally drawn towards a person who has a deep and rich voice. Deeper voices are often associated with power and authority, as such it is easy to make people listen to you when you speak from your chest, in a powerful manner.

Make sure you are audible and clear when you speak. There is nothing as frustrating as straining your ears to hear what the next person is trying to say. That being said though, being loud does not mean that people will listen to you. Just make sure that your voice is projected such that it is heard and not drowned out by surrounding noise, but at the same time do not be the one drowning other people’s voices with yours. In meetings, keep it clear and concise. Avoid being long winded and explaining a lot of unnecessary things. Your audience will zone out if you take too long to get to the point.

Always come across as warm and enthusiastic when you speak. Speaking in a loving (well-wishing) manner helps your audience to warm up to you, and therefore they will pay attention to you. Use animated speech and do not speak in a single and monotonous tone. Change your voice trajectory to clearly highlight that you have asked a question or made a remark. This also helps people to understand the meaning of what you are saying and to pick up on sarcasm and humour. 

Pay attention to your pace. Talking too quickly hinders people from actually hearing you. Also, speaking too slowly makes people shift their attention from you. Your pace has to be exactly right so that there is enough emphasis on the message you are trying to convey.

Bad habits to overcome

The first thing to avoid is gossiping. It is unprofessional to speak ill of other people. Gossiping at the water cooler and saying bad things about your boss and other colleagues casts you in a negative light. Once people in the office start associating you with gossip, no one will ever take you seriously, as such no one will pay attention to anything that you say.

Being judgmental is another trait to abandon. People are naturally inclined towards people that are pleasant and will not make them feel inferior, therefore conversing with a judgmental person is actually draining for most people. Being judgmental scares away people because it makes them anxious that you will make them feel inferior every time they have to speak to you. Having colleagues that speak in a judgmental manner is bad for productivity as you most likely would be afraid to approach them for assistance.

How many times have you avoided engaging in a conversation with certain co-workers because all they seem to talk about is how good they are at certain tasks and how much better they are at particular things than everyone else around them? In the workplace, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing your accomplishments and celebrating your wins, however it should not be the only thing that you talk about. Do not brag and do not demean others. Understand that everyone brings something of value to the business, as such their accomplishments and strengths should also be acknowledged.

No-one wants to converse with a person that is always gloomy and has a pessimistic view on everything. At the very least it is draining and exhausting. In as much as we all have bad days, a bit of positivity in the way we converse engages listeners very well. Complaining about co-workers, the boss and your work projects should also be avoided. You merely ruin everyone’s day by complaining constantly. 

It has become a sort of norm, nowadays, for people to exaggerate a little bit when they speak. For example, you can ask someone how their day was, and they will say it was horrible and dreadful, when in actual fact it was simply a day filled with small frustrations. How then will that person express themselves the day something “dreadful” like losing their job, happens to them? Exaggerating distorts the meaning of the message you are trying to convey. In some instances, exaggerating is on par with lying, and impacts negatively on your credibility.

Lastly, avoid imposing your opinion on others. Learn to distinguish between what is fact and what is opinion. Remember that everyone sees things differently and that people are entitled to their own opinions, even though they may not be in line with yours. And just because someone sees things differently, it does not necessarily mean that they are wrong. Therefore, allow co-workers to express their opinions comfortably in a conversation and respect their point of view.