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Education Resources

Listening and Types of Listening from Business Communication

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Listening is a highly complex, interactive process “by which spoken language is converted to meaning in the mind”. As this definition suggests, listening is more than just hearing, although these two terms are often used synonymously. Hearing is only an important component of listening. Listening is a specialized form of hearing and is the primary function of the ear. The most crucial part of the listening process is thinking or converting to meaning what one hears.

Hearing is a passive process. It is merely the detection of sounds around us. Normally, we come across ‘hearing’ in certain situations.

Listening: It is an active process. It involves the conscious desire to determine the meaning of what is heard. While listening, one is engaged in processing the date, reconstructing the data and also giving meaning to the data.

Types of Listening:

Discriminative listening:

As the name itself suggests, discriminative listening is the most basic type of listening, whereby the difference between the sounds is identified. If you cannot hear differences, then you cannot grasp the meaning that is expressed by such differences.

Comprehension listening:

When the discrimination between sounds is achieved, one should learn to make sense of the perceived sound. To comprehend the meaning, one requires a lexicon of words and all rules of grammar and syntax by which one can understand what others are saying.

Evaluative listening:

Evaluative listening is also called ‘critical listening’ because we make judgments about what the other person is saying. We seek to assess the truth of what is being said, We also judge what they say about our values, assessing them as good or bad, worthy or unworthy.

Appreciative listening:

In appreciative listening, the main intention is to seek certain information which will be appreciated.

Empathetic listening:

When we listen empathetically, we seek to understand the beliefs, moods, emotions and goals of other people. This requires excellent discrimination and close attention to the nuances of emotional signals.

Therapeutic listening:

In therapeutic listening, the listener has a purpose of not only empathizing with the speaker but also to use this deep connection in order to help the speaker understand, change or develop in some way.

Dialogic listening:

The word ‘dialogue’ stems from the Greek words ‘dia’, meaning ‘through’ and ‘logos’ meaning ‘words’. Thus dialogic listening means learning through conversation. Dialogic listening is also known as ‘relational listening’ because with the help of exchange of ideas while listening, we also indirectly creation a relation.

The chapter has also been taken from Business Communication book of SMU MBA in the sequel of Visual Aids.

Visual Aids – Creating Visual Aid Properly from Business Communication

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In case you want to make your oral presentation very interesting, you can do so with the help of ‘Visual aids.’ However, they must be relevant to what you want to say. A careless design or use of a slide which does not correspond to the matter that you are presenting can simply get in the way of the presentation. What you use should depend on the type of talk you are giving. Here are some possibilities.

Overhead projection transparencies (OHPs)

35 mm slides

Computer projection (Power Point, applications such as Excel, etc)

Video and film

Real objects – either handled from the speaker’s bench or passed around

Flip-chart or blackboard – possibly used as a scratch-pad to expand on a point

There are certain precautions that you have to take while preparing these visual aids. While preparing a Power Point presentation, if we get the slides that we are looking for, we are tempted to be over-enthusiastic about it and keep adding the slides even if it is not so essential. Be careful and don’t heed to such temptations! Keep your presentations simple because a complex set of hardware can result in confusion for speaker and audience. Make sure you know in advance how to operate the equipment and also when you want particular displays to appear. If you are assisted by a technician to operate the equipment, arrange with him beforehand, the order of the displays and what signals you would use to convey the changes. Edit your slides as carefully as you talk – if a slide is superfluous then leave it out. If you need to use a slide twice, duplicate it. And always check your slides – for typographical errors, consistency of fonts and layout.

Slides and OHPs should contain the minimum information necessary. If your slides are loaded with text matter, they become unreadable. It also may divert the attention of your audience, so that they spend time reading the slide rather than listening to you. Slides or OHPs should be used to display a few handlings which are taken as prompts. Do not simply read the material off them: supplement or explain what is written. Try to limit words per slide to a maximum of 10. Use a reasonable size font and a typeface which will enlarge well.

Typically use a minimum 18pt Times Roman on OHPs and preferably larger. A guideline is: if you can read the OHP from a distance of 2 meters (without projection) then it’s probably OK. Making coloured slides will attract the attention of the audience. But avoid orange and yellow which do not show up very well when projected. For text only, white or yellow on blue is pleasant to look at and easy to read.

Avoid using a diagram prepared for a technical report in your talk. It will be too detailed and difficult to read.

Another thing that you have to avoid is adding to OHPs with a pen during the talk. Sometimes you tend to be so immersed in your presentation that you go on drawing circles or underlines on the transparencies. It will look messy and the audience will be fascinated by your shaking hand!

It is very important to consider the proper lighting in the room where you are presenting. Too much light near the screen will make it difficult to see the detail. On the other hand, a completely darkened room can send the audiences to sleep. Try to avoid having to keep switching lights on and off, but if you do have to do this, know the light switches are and how to use them.

The chapter has also been taken from the Business Communication of SMU MBA MB0023 book.

Oral Presentation – Basic Steps for Oral Presentations from Business Communication

Sunday, May 2, 2010

If you are going to prepare oral presentation, keep some suggestions in your mind. These are the basic suggestions that have been taken from Business Communication Book of SMU MBA MB023.

Plan your presentation keeping in mind the audience profile. In other words, develop a strategy bearing in mind, the specific needs of your audience. If you know your audience, their expectations and the importance of the occasion in which the presentation is being made, you will be able to make a worthwhile presentation. For example, if your presentation is on the occasion of the opening of a new Department of Surgery, and if it is meant for patients suffering from a particular symptom for which no treatment is available in your town, you are attempting to throw light on the necessity of the new Department. But if it is for your team of doctors during a month in which, the team’s performance has not been up to expectations, you are trying to present a situation where your team will be motivated to improve their performance.

Rate your presentation to your audience. Tailor your message to the audience – you should understand their needs, desires, knowledge level, and attitude toward your topic.

At the time of presentation, be concrete, specific, practical and relevant. Don’t give elaborate details. Your audience will think that you do not have sufficient content and so you are simply repeating the same pint unnecessarily. Clarify your objectives – is it to motivate? … inform? … persuade? …. Teach? – Remember, each of these motives calls for a different approach. You should also be sure about your role as a presenter. Are you a coach? advocate? teacher? This will help the audience understand your position and will have an influence over the outcome of the presentation. Tell them logically as to how your presentation will help your audience in their work. Will it solve a problem effectively without waste of time and resources?

Present a sound case. Let the presentation lead to a common goal. You should be a director towards this end. If you want to achieve this goal, you must research your subject extensively. There are no short cuts. You must be through with your subject and be sure of achieving the goals of the presentation.

Give your presentation a structure. Convert information into a meaningful message. Let the audience see a logical sequence, not a collection of bits and pieces of information.

Organize your message. Start with the simple points and move to the more complex. Let the audience recognize the importance of the message. Let your ideas be made clear to them so that they will understand not only the significance of the subject but also the importance of your ideas in relation to the subject.

Justify your ideas. Let the audience know what is expected of them. Let your topic be placed in context. Tell them why you are presenting the topic and how it will solve the problem successfully. Tell the audience who the presentation will progress and what you expect from them. Encourage their participation.

Keep in your mind the following suggestions while doing an oral presentation just like oral communication. They will help you to retain the interest of the audience.

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