by Daniel Kingsley
Any great musician will tell you that the most important thing in making music is not technique, or even musicality, but listening. And surprisingly it’s the same with speaking if you really want to connect with your audience. Specifically, three sorts of listening.
The first sort of listening involves listening to yourself – both paying attention to your emotional world, but also paying attention to your voice as you speak and even taking pleasure in hearing it, almost as if it wasn’t yours at all.
All relationship starts with ourselves. If we are not paying attention to ourselves, there is no-one there for people to connect with. This is the foundation and for real connection it’s non-negotiable.
The second sort of listening, is listening to your audience – not before you speak or after you speak, but while you speak – feeling the response of the audience as you communicate with them, be it one person or several thousand.
This sets up the two way connection and completes the circle. You are receiving from your audience and giving back to them. Again, looking at the world of sport or entertainment tells us that this is very well known to be true. The best athletes and performers feed off the attention of audience.
But it goes further than that – if you are listening to your audience as you speak, you are subconsciously receiving valuable information about where the group as a whole is at, and how you need to adjust your delivery in order to communicate with them in the way they need in that moment. Do they need you to draw them in, share something of yourself, increase your level of energy or rein it in? If you’re listening – you’ll know, instinctively and without the need to analyse.
The third sort of listening is on the surface the most mysterious, but once again it is something that we all do naturally sometimes – it is listening to the space. This is shifting our attention beyond “you” and “me” and to the greater whole. This is the place where creativity resides – in the space, the silence. This is the place of the big picture, of the limits of what’s possible and of inspiration.
And although this place is mysterious, choosing to pay attention to it is very straightforward. Whenever you take a breath or a pause, listen to the silence and spend long enough listening to the silence to feel your perspective shifting, into a big picture perspective.
The idea of listening to the silence may sound preposterous to your mind, but the rest of you already knows how to do this and if you put your mind to one side for a moment right now and (just for the hell of it) listen to the silence underneath all the sounds for 30 seconds you’ll discover it’s easy to do.
These principles underly all of the work we do in coaching connected communication. Practising any of them will make a huge difference to the way you relate. Practising all three together is truly transformational.