Make Room For The Stuttering

Listening Deeply

Posted on: October 12, 2012

At the FRIENDS conference this past July, one of the phrases I heard that really stuck with me was “listening deeply.” People were asked what they hoped to get out of the conference, and someone wrote they hoped they would learn to listen more deeply.

I have heard many people who stutter say they think they are better listeners in general because they are more aware of the importance of listening and because they also talk less.

What do you think of that?

Last night, I had to give a high stakes presentation to our school board. It was important that I conveyed my message powerfully in a short amount of time. When we were preparing, my partner and I had considered doing a PowerPoint presentation or just talking without “relying” on visual aids.

We chose to NOT use a PowerPoint and to just speak, and have handouts available for further reference for board members.

The group that spoke before us had a PowerPoint presentation, and I worried that maybe we had made the wrong decision to not use a visual.

As I watched and listened to the first speakers, I also paid attention to the audience. They were not paying close attention. They were looking through handouts and flipping pages as the speakers spoke.  I thought they were not listening deeply, as they were perhaps distracted by the PowerPoint presentation.

When I got up to speak, despite being very nervous, I just spoke. As I made eye contact with listeners, I noticed they were all focused on me, some made direct eye contact and they were listening. I could tell! I could see facial expressions, body language and head nods that told me they were listening.

I got the impression that they were listening deeply, as they were invited to do so by not being distracted with anything else. I think they heard my message loud and clear.

By the way, I stuttered a few times and did not feel in any way that it detracted from my message.

We all should aim to listen deeply. We might be surprised by how much we actually hear.

2 Responses to "Listening Deeply"

I completely agree on how PowerPoint slides are a distraction: how can the audience possibly listen to the speaker and read slides at the same time?
On stutterers being good listeners, I have had mixed experiences. In the past, if I was having a conversation with someone or if I was in a meeting where I had to speak, I would frequently be so worried about whether I would stutter that I wouldn’t hear a single word others said! The best example of this is ‘going around the room’ during introductions. I’m working on being a better listener so that I don’t obsess about my speech.
And, BTW, congratulations on your speech. That was very brave not to use any slides.

some stammerers talking at a conference use powerpoint as a way to get through the piece. at a recent Irish Stammering Association day I chose NOT to do this…i just talked, and people listened. I was so pleased with how it went.
almost all the others used powerpoint….

as for stammerers being good listeners i have found the opposite. we are so focused on what we want to say, when we want to say it that sometimes we do not even hear what the oher person has to say. conversation is a two way thing and sometimes we forget this.

for some however if they are quiet by nature and do not wish to put themselves out to speak, can be expert listeners….but do they respond? alot of the time they think of lots to say but choose not to, for the fear of speaking in response….

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