As discussed in the previous unit, listening requires conscious effort to choose to do. Listening requires a measure of mental concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences. It is important to remember that with communication, it is not necessary always to say something back. It is rather important to develop into a great listener.
Audience Listening Interpretation Techniques
The audience mind can be turned on by a good speech, like turning on a light, and the public speaking audience consists of the people who share in or participate in the experience or encounter of the presentation put on by a presenter. Your public speaking audience can better be served if you know a few basic things about them and how they can interpret the information they hear. Listening is more than the sum of its parts, and there are various kinds of listening techniques that the audience may employ at any given time they are listening. They could be engaged in the following way:
Listening for information
Information could include facts, figures, details, knowledge, instruction, advice, guidance, direction, counsel, enlightenment, news words, thought content or knowledge. Informational Listening can be to understand or to learn.
Listening for Emotional Content
Emotional content is the underlying feelings that are based on emotion rather than reason. It can also include things like the tone of voice, gestures, body language and micro-expressions. Is the person happy and satisfied or dispirited or dejected? Is there anger or pleasantness noted in the effect? Or does the speaker manifest proud or humble emotions?
Listening for the Unspoken
Listening for what is unsaid, what is implied but not stated, inhibited from being said or what may really be meant.
Listening for Entertainment
Sometimes we like to listen to music, poetry readings and other forms of entertainment.
Critical or Evaluative Listening
Here, we listen to some pieces of information, and then use what we have heard to make personal decisions in our lives.
Speech mastery in public speaking requires understanding the Listening Style of the audience. In addition to the various types of listening public speakers concern themselves with, of greater interest should be the way the audience listens. Listening style can be categorized into four different classifications. The 1984 book Whole Brain Thinking reported on a 20 year research project by Dr. David Merrill and Dr. Roger Reid on how the mind works. Their findings demonstrated that an effective speaker must be aware of at least 4 different styles of listeners. To reach each different type of listening requires speaking to meet the unique personality or psychological needs of an audience. This is a very basic look of the makeup of an audience that would be listening to public speaking. When we speak, to feel as though you are connected and to be able to say the audience is listening is an understatement. More importantly, how are they listening? What is the style of listening used by each individual in the audience? What is the psychology of listening?
Types Of Listening Style
Analytical listeners will have puzzled looks while listening. They will be questioning, thoughtful and sceptical during the talk. Body language will include rubbing chin and or brow. They will be evaluating and critiquing the information and delivery. If you are new to public speaking, these are the listeners to get your critique from. You also need to give them things to analyse without boring everyone else.
‘Driver’ listeners are the result – oriented men and women of action. They are also impatient. They will be the ones usually sitting at the front of the audience. They ask, “How can I use this information now.” “How is this practical?” They do not need to know when or why if these are self evident. To them, the information application is self evident. Their need is for what, and how that is new. Their listening style is, “Get to the point.” Great public speaking requires meeting their need while not leaving everyone else behind.
These are the audiences that care for you as the speaker. They also care for the audience. Those new to public speaking will enjoy the kudos they receive from this group. They usually will not give the critical assessment that will help you attain Speech mastery. Consider an example of public speaking to this group and really connecting to them. Imagine a speaker stopping, shuffling his notes as though he lost something he wanted to say. He then looks down at the floor as if it may have fell. How do you feel? What thoughts would go through your mind? When seeing this happen to a speaker, my heart sunk. Then the speaker reaching into his pocket pulled out a piece of paper with this ahha look on his face. He proceeded to explain he was demonstrating the quality of empathy. It was an exceptional illustration.
Unfortunately, he was only speaking to part of the audience. He was speaking to those who would be concerned with his plight. Others may have been thinking he should have been better prepared. The amiable listener may look concerned and even worried if someone is ignored, or smile to encourage you, the speaker, or even others.
This group of listeners like to be involved and be a part of what is going on. The expressive listener like involvement. This listener will become easily bored with technical data. They will become fidgety or a class clown. The research found they will often be intuitive. Those with this listening style will really appreciate audience participation. The most basic way to involve an audience in public speaking is to ask for a show of hands with a question you know will have many responses. If you can and do, this will enable you to connect to those with this listening style.
Reach All In Your Audience
To reach all four audiences and hold their attention, when public speaking requires balancing many elements of speaking, they need enough data to please the analytical listener without boring the expressive. The programme needs to move along for the goal oriented driver. Openness, comfort and empathy are needed to satisfy the amiable personality. Many public speaking books will say all audiences are basically the same. You will find in your experience and based on this science, on at least a few levels, this is not true. Learn to reach out to each of the several types of listening styles when you are engaged in public speaking. Learn to meet the demands of each individual istening style. If you master putting all four listening styles together to best serve your audience, you will not only attain speech mastery, you will gain power over your audience.
Types of Listening
Here are six types of listening, starting with basic discrimination of sounds and ending in deep communication.
Discriminative listening is the most basic type of listening, whereby the difference between different sounds is identified. If you cannot hear differences, then you cannot make sense of the meaning that is expressed by such differences. We learn to discriminate between sounds within our own language early, and later are unable to discriminate between the phonemes of other languages. This is one reason why a person from one country finds it difficult to speak another language perfectly, as they are unable to distinguish the subtle sounds that are required in that language.
Likewise, a person who cannot hear the subtleties of emotional variation in another person’s voice will be less likely to be able to discern the emotions the other person is experiencing. Listening is a visual as well as auditory act, as we communicate much through body language. We thus also need to be able to discriminate between muscle and skeletal movements that signify different meanings.