Look at the Speaker
Last month I discussed the importance of speakers establishing eye
contact with their audiences. Effective eye contact is also
important for listeners.
Of course, not all eye contact is of equal value. To achieve the
kind of eye contact that helps you listen better, you must do more
than simply look in the direction of the person speaking. Simply
staring at or "through" a speaker is not the kind of eye
contact that will aid your listening or encourage the speaker.
Here are seven ways to improve your eye contact with a speaker.
- In one-on-one or small group settings, sit or stand where you
can look directly at the person speaking.
- In large groups, sit in the front and center of the audience.
You can more easily establish eye contact with the speaker from this
- Don't get so involved in taking notes that you fail to look
often at the speaker. The speaker's gestures, movements, and
facial expression are often an important part of the message.
- Don't allow yourself to be distracted by the setting or other
people. Focus on the speaker and the message.
- Don't look at others who enter or leave while the speaker is
talking. This practice not only interrupts your train of
thought--it adds to the distraction of the speaker.
- Speakers sometimes exhibit a visual aid too soon or neglect to
remove it when they have finished using. It. Focus on the visual
aid only when it is relevant to the point being discussed.
- Never sleep when someone is talking to you! This may
seem self-evident, but let's face it--in the busyness of our lives, we
tend to become passive whenever we listen. Passivity encourages
reduced attention, which leads to drowsiness. It is better
to stand up, or even leave the room, rather than fall asleep.
(This information was extracted from my book, Listening Effectively.)