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4.6: Conclusion, Glossary, References

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    Admittedly, this discussion of listening may add a layer of intimidation for public speakers. After all, it can be daunting to think of having to get an audience to not only hear, but also truly listen.

    Nevertheless, once we recognize the difference and become aware of active listening and its barriers, we can better tailor our spoken words to captivate and engage an audience. A broader awareness of the importance of effective listening is another weapon in your arsenal as a public speaker. At the same time, building up your own effective listening skills can enhance your academic, professional, and personal success. Being heard is one thing, but speakers need listeners to complete the communication loop. Reap the rewards: Instead of saying “I hear you,” try out “I’m listening.”

    Review Questions

    1. What distinguished listening from hearing?
    2. What are some benefits for you personally from effective listening?
    3. Name and given an example for each of the three A’s of listening.
    4. Identify the three main barriers to listening. Which of these barriers is most problematic for you? What can you do about it?
    5. How can you communicate nonverbally that you are listening?
    6. What are considerations in offering constructive feedback?
    7. What are strategies that help hold your listeners attention during your speech?


    Auditory Association
    The process by which the mind sorts the perceived sound into a category so that heard information is recognized. New stimuli is differentiated by comparing and contrasting with previously heard sounds.
    Communication Loop
    A traditional communication model that has both sender and receiver sharing responsibility for communicating a message, listening, and offering feedback. The sender encodes a message for the receiver to decode. Effectiveness of the communication depends on the two sharing a similar interpretation of the message and feedback (which can be verbal or nonverbal).
    Constructive Feedback
    Focuses on being specific, applicable, immediate, and intends to help the speaker to improve. The feedback should be phrased as “The story you told about you and your sister in Disneyland really helped me to understand your relationship…” rather than “that was great, Jane.”
    “Deaf Spots”
    The preconceived notions or beliefs a listener might hold dear that can interfere with listening effectively. These are barriers to having an open mind to receive the sender’s message.
    Emotional Trigger
    A word, concept, or idea that causes the listener to react emotionally. When listeners react to a speaker from an emotional perspective, their ability to listen effectively is compromised.
    A speaker aims to establish credibility on the topic at hand with her audience by appealing to ethos. This reflects the speaker’s character, her ability to speak to the values of the listener, and her competence to discuss the topic.
    Hearing is a three-step process. It involves receiving sound in the ear, perceiving sound in the brain, and processing the information offered by the sound to associate and distinguish it.
    Intrinsic Motivation
    Effective listeners will find a reason within themselves to want to hear, understand, interpret, and remember the speaker’s message. Wanting to pass a possible quiz is an extrinsic motivation, while wanting to learn the material out of curiosity about the topic is intrinsic motivation.
    “Listener’s Lean”
    Audience members who are intent on what is being said will lean forward. This is a nonverbal endorsement of the listener’s attention and the effect of the speaker’s message.
    This is the conscious act of focusing on the words or sounds to make meaning of a message. Listening requires more intentional effort than the physiological act of hearing.
    Listening Reminder
    A note made by a listener acknowledging intent to focus on the speaker’s message and tune out distractions. A reminder might also encourage a listener to keep an open mind, or to provide open and encouraging body language.
    Nonverbal Communication
    Physical behaviors that communicate the message or the feedback from the listener. These include leaning in, nodding one’s head, maintaining eye contact, crossing arms in front of the body, and offering sounds of agreement or dissent.
    An appeal to the audience’s emotions, trying to trigger sympathy, pity, guilt, or sorrow. Pathos, along with ethos, and logos, make up the rhetorical triangle of appeals, according to Aristotle. An effective speaker will appeal to all three.
    Writing for the Ear
    Keeping in mind, when writing a speech, that you must use language, pace, repetition, and other elements to help your audience to hear and see what you are speaking about. Remember, the listener must hear and understand your message as you speak it.


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    • Bommelje, R., Houston, J. M., & Smither, R. (2003). Personality characteristics of effective listening: A five factor perspective. International Journal of Listening, 17, 32- 46.
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    • William Henry Harrison: Inaugural Address. (1989). U. S. Inaugural Addresses. Accessed Sept. 2, 2012. Wobser, A. (2004). Developing positive listening skills: How to really listen. Huntsville, TX. Educational Video Network.

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