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Speaking: Rules of Engagement

It’s frustrating when we we feel like people aren’t listening to us, at work, at home or when socializing. This can happen regardless of what language your speaking, your native or second or third. It’s not grammar that is holding you back or necessarily your vocabulary, it helps but it’s not critical.

Language learners, even the good ones, get anxious, stressed and muddled when it’s time to speak but in this post I’d like to share some ideas on speaking in general that apply to all of us regardless of our proficiency in the language. There are some rules of engagement when speaking that compliment very nicely with the top ten tips of having a good conversation, a post from a couple of years ago but still absolutely relevant today and even more so in many respects. So let’s get to it.

One language processor

We humans only have one language processor, so if it is focused on something else than it stands to reason that it won’t be active in the conversation that is taking place in front of you, because it simply cannot. That means that you need to turn off your smartphone or your laptop. When someone is speaking to you, give them your attention and you’ll find them to be much more responsive when you speak with them in return. If they don’t comply then maybe they are not worth your time, save your breath. But it starts with us, and that means focusing our language processor on the speaker in front of us. It’s up to you!

A promise

Start any talk you are giving, even if it is a short presentation, with an empowerment promise. That means telling your listeners what they will have gained,learned, discovered by the end of your talk. BOOM! It’s then that your listeners know what they will get for their undivided attention, and that is what you promised them. For every talk we give there is always a reason for it and if there isn’t then it’s good to ask yourself whether it’s worth giving at all, even if it is an audience of one, like your boss, your neighbor, significant other etc.

Circle on the subject

Finally, remember that audiences sooner or later will tune you out, it’s almost inevitable and so you need to wheel them back in and how to get them back on the bus exactly? Circle around your subject! Come back to it and tell them again. Ensure that most people get it by telling them three times. There are a few rules of three and this is one of them. Circle around the tip or idea or subject, that way you raise the odds significantly that people will remember and know what you were talking about.

The majority of people get anxious when speaking to audiences or just in a group at a bar. We’ve all been there, but these are three ways to get on track and get everyone listening to YOU. More to follow on this, NOW GO GET ‘EM!

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conversation tips, Speaking, Talks
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