The Best Public Speakers Are Good Listeners


Do you want to be an excellent public speaker?

Then you must be a good listener as well as a powerful and articulate speaker. Not only before and after your presentation but during as well. You must be a human antenna attuned to your audience at every stage of your presentation from content development, while presenting, and post speaking.

Julian explains the elements of a good listener:

How can you put Julian’s insight into practice as a public speaker?

During the content development stage you must know your audience or you will be a lecturer not a public speaker. Know your audience intimately by brainstorming the nuances of the attendees who you want to persuade. Here is an audience analysis example that a marketing firm created so they could understand who their client’s customer is. They listened and understood how best to approach their clients because they now understand how to direct their message. Sit with a piece of paper and think about who your audience – there habits and beliefs – to understand which are the best pieces of your insight to share.

While presenting watch your audience – are they intent or are they looking restless? Are they responding to you with nods of agreement or are they engaged in their smartphones. When we listen our audience gives us clues as to whether to increase the volume or let us know if we need to change the direction of our content.

If you have the opportunity meet your audience attendees ask if there is something you can expand upon or if there is a concept they did not understand. Or send a survey post event and learn what resonated and what didn’t. Then listen sharply and take comments away for your next presentation.

Listening is easy but really listening, understanding, and then deploying is hard.

To your voice,


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Your Ears Won’t Let You Down

Students and clients are surprised when I share the importance of listening as a presenter. It is easy to conclude that as a presenter, your job is orator. Wrong. To be effective at the craft a presentation needs to listen.

Three Keys ~ When to Listen

While constructing the presentation, keep the needs of your target audience in mind, listen rather than speaking is key. Throw your bias out and understand that your perception/history is different than your audiences’.

Listen with your eyes and ears. Is your audience riveted or are they exercising their digits on their Smartphone? If they are squirming now is the time to engage them. Ask questions or move to Plan B. You do have a Plan B…

Q & A – Listen to what you are being asked. Did you cover the point in your presentation? Think about why it did not connect. Or does the question help you realize that you have created engagement and generated deeper level thinking? Strong listening skills at the Q & A stage gives you concrete insight into what worked and what did not. Great ammunition for your next presentation.

I came across this TedTalk presentation, thanks to the SoloTraveler. The power of listening personified by John Frances:

Be bold. Get heard. Inspire action.