Okay, we all know that you shine behind the podium. Your motivational messages have a profound effect on everyone who hears them. But really, are your speaking skills all that they should be?
While many professionals can deliver effective speeches, lectures, or sermons week in and week out, there’s more to communication than simply orating. Anyone can come up with a motivational message by spending a few minutes searching the Internet for inspirational quotes and building from there. Anyone can read a passage from a text with passion, eye contact, and corresponding hand gestures.
But no one can deliver the right message – which is the message your audience needs to hear – unless they have one critical communication skill. The art of listening is a skill that every great communicator has mastered. It’s a skill many mediocre communicators don’t give much thought to. After all, people are coming to listen to you, not the other way around. And it’s a skill that affects all professions, at all levels.
What is the message that your audience needs to hear? It’s impossible to know unless you have listened to your audience. For example, if you’re a pastor, you can’t know what concerns your audience unless you actively listen to your congregation. You may have a terrific sermon lined up about the evils of war but it will be lost if your congregation is worried about their sons and daughters currently serving in the military. What do they need to hear right now? That war is bad? Or that their sons and daughters are under God’s watchful eye?
It’s impossible to address someone’s concerns if you don’t know what those concerns are. Take the time to get to know your audience. This doesn’t mean mingling with them at a cocktail party and making small talk. It means opening the lines of communications and actively listening to what’s being said.
Another way to find out what’s on peoples’ minds is to use other forms of communications to dig deeper. Consider setting up a blog or online forum where your group can add comments or ask questions. Send out surveys and ask them what their biggest concerns might be. In some cases, you may get the best results if these tools are used confidentially.
For example, an employee may hesitate to air his concerns if he thought his boss might reprimand him. But if the forum or survey allowed for an anonymous dialogue, he might be willing to open up.
Now that you know what’s on the groups’ mind, whether the group is your congregation, employees, parents and teachers, colleagues, investors, volunteers, or students, you can begin to come up with the perfect message and that’s the one that they need to hear.