To attain speechmastery will require learning to be at public speaking and listening.
Public speaking and listening are connected at the hips. When preparing for any speaking engagement, it is necessary to communicate with those you are going to speak to and those you are speaking in behalf of. To give your best you will need to know what the audience would benefit from. This can only be learned by listening.
The second most important kind of listening is even harder than the first. This is listening to the audience as you speak. With few cultural exceptions this will require reading the body language of the audience. Other aspects of listening to the audience could be when they clap, participate in what you say (for instance, "...can we have a show of hands?")
Listening makes possible the centering of our interest on the audience. Concentrating on how to help the audience is the best way for us to reach their minds.
When you listen you are given a gift. You are provided a blueprint to guide the building the talk to meet the needs of the audience.
Surveys, questionnaires, interviews, just calling some of the potential audience are all ways to find out how to best fill their needs. When they speak, how well do you listen?
At a trade show and talking with Porter Cable rep, I mentioned that the biggest problem with their product was that the cords on their tools failed. It would be helpful if they used a heavier electric cord.
The rep said that nobody had ever complained of the cords.
He was surprised when I replied that what he said was untrue. I continued, "You see, you have had this complaint. You had it just now. The only problem, you did not listen to the complaint."
Even if he did nothing more than offer to take my information to the management, I may have kept buying their tools. However, his failure to listen resulted in my failure to buy any more tools.
Listening is essential before giving a speech. Incorporate some of the information you gather and you increase the chance of having a hit.
How do you listen when your doing the speaking? As mentioned above, reading the body language of the audience.
When we listen to the body language we can tell what the audience is thinking and feeling about what we are saying.
Looking at their faces is a good place to start. Is there interest or boredom? Which way are their heads tilted? Are they looking at you, looking down or looking elsewhere?
The million dollar speaker mentioned on Speechmastery.com was a master at listening and public speaking. She was speaking at a seminar with about 50 people spread throughout the room, two each at a table. She used a slang Hawaiian word that referred to the private parts of a man.
Three people were so shocked at what she said, they evidently mad some kind of face or had some reaction. If she was tied to her notes and not maintaining audience contact, she would not have seen the communication. Even more impressive, they were at opposite sides of the room.
Another thing to listen to, the arms.
Are they taking notes? Are they crossed? And when they cross their arms, what are the facial expressions?
Some professions that use speakers customarily have a feature of open questions. These offer an additional way to listen.
If simple questions are asked it could indicate that your speech was not fully understood by the audience. Questions asking you to repeat what you have covered in your speech indicates the one asking has not been very attentive.
More complex questions often mean the audience understands your speech. Such questions indicate that the audience wants more information, deeper information. Additionally, if the questions are positive and seeking further explanation, then the audience is most likely appreciative of your talk.
In this instance it was further reinforced when phone calls started coming after the speech was done and out of the ear shot of the one voice of dissent. And what were the questions from the phone calls? As stated above, they were more complex questions.
Some public speaking and listening related links to check out.
Public Speaking Audience The home page for all things audience.
The Audience Mind What are mental triggers? Can you capture the attention of the audience?
You will after visiting the The Audience Mind