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October 2001 - Drier than Dust

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John A. Kline, PhD jkline@klinespeak.com
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October 2001

Drier than Dust

My friend had just returned from listening to a speaker in a lecture series. When I asked him whether the speaker was any good, he replied, "No, it was drier than dust."

Then my friend said, "John, you go all over the country teaching and lecturing on listening. What do you tell people to do when the speaker or the subject is dry?"

Here are six tips that may help:

  1. Put yourself in the speaker's place. Try to see the speaker's point of view, and try to understand the speaker's attitude toward the subject.
  2. Review frequently what the speaker has said. Try to summarize the message up to that point as the speaker would summarize it.
  3. Constantly ask yourself positive questions about what the speaker is saying: How can I use this information? How can I share this information with others? What else could be said about this subject?
  4. Ask yourself, "What does the speaker know that I don't?"
  5. Find at least one major application or conclusion from every message you hear. In other words, ask "what's in this message for me?" Then find the answer.
  6. Listen as though you are going to be required to present the same message to a different audience later.

While it is difficult to keep focused on dry speakers or dry subjects--and especially on dry speakers speaking on dry subjects, I find that this last tip is the most valuable. Listen as though you have to pass the information on to someone else.

Good luck! I hope you don't have to listen to many dry speakers talking on dry subjects.

John Kline
Troy, Alabama
jkline@klinespeak.com


October 2001 - Drier than Dust
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