Speech Making - Reasons Why People Don't Listen

Thomas Murrell

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Making a speech seems simple. You speak, others listen. However this isn’t always the case, in fact one of the biggest challenges for speakers is getting their audience listen. If you have to make a speech - you want it to be memorable and successful. If you understand why people don't listen, you will be more successful at getting them to listen!

Here are nine reasons why people don't listen to a speech.

1. Message overload.

If you are at a seminar and spend most of the day listening, you simply have too much information in your brain to retain all of it. Most presenters make the mistake - myself included - of putting too much content into their speeches.

2. Preoccupation.

Many in the audience are thinking about other issues - when is my pay due, what will I do on the weekend, I must finish that pressing business proposal etc.

3. Rapid thinking.

How often have you sat in the audience and your mind races ahead? We think at about 600 words per minute. On average, people talk at about 140 words per minute.

4. Effort.

Active listening is just plain hard work. When you're actively listening, your respiration rate goes up and your heart starts to beat faster. Remember people can't keep it up for long – so give them a break. Use some humour and audience interaction.

5. External noise.

This could be noise from another room you hear or visual noise. Take for example distracting gestures or appearance which can distract the listeners attention.

6. Hearing problems.

Fifty per cent of people have hearing problems. One of the things I learnt from working with the Better Hearing Association is to start a speech with “can everyone hear me clearly".

7. Faulty assumptions.

The audience assumes you said something you didn't.

8. Lack of apparent advantage.

The listener does not recognise the benefits. Always highlight the benefits for the audience.

9. Lack of training.

Did you ever take “Listening 101" at School or University. Like anything listening is a skill which must be practiced, whilst some people obtain the practice often others might not be used to attending professional seminars or listening intently for long periods of time.

Source: Adapted from “Looking Out, Looking In", Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1993, p. 253.

Thomas Murrell MBA CSP is an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster. Media Motivators is his regular electronic magazine read by 7,000 professionals in 15 different countries. You can subscribe by visiting http://www.8mmedia.com Thomas can be contacted directly at +6189388 6888 and is available to speak to your conference, seminar or event. Visit Tom's blog at http://www.8mmedia.blogspot.com


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