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Listening skills for a large group


Would anyone know a short - 5 minute max- exercise to be used on a 10-15 minute presentation on listening skills to a group of 150 delegates?!  all contributions very gratefully received!

9 Responses

  1. I think…

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you so much for your reply.  I think that I want them to feel better equipped to be able to listen helpfully.  Perhaps to get them to think about how they personally listen and how they might improve any ‘bad habits’.

  2. ok..

    I guess I mean how to communicate that listening to someone who has come to them with a problem  is not just about hearing the problem and offering a solution, but also can be theraputic in its self.  Bad habits might be choosing a time to meet with another when the listener is  overworked and stressed so really can’t be actually ‘present’ for the other.  Does that make sense?


  3. thank you!

    thanks Steve, I will think more about the quesioning skills.

    best wishes


  4. That brilliant!

    I hadn’t read your 15 mins, before replying previously!  Thank you so much, that is really helpful.

    best wishes P

  5. Simple but effective exercise

    Hi –

    I recently experienced this exercise which I thought was very powerful. It was part of a longer session, but I think you could edit it effectively.

    First the trainer told us she was going to ask us 20 questions and that we should practice our listening skills and write down the answers to each one. She asked the questions pretty quickly straight after each other and told us in advance that she wouldn’t repeat any we missed.

    At the end I only had 18 answers. That’s because the first question she asked was "are you ready?" and half way through she asked "how are you finding it?". I missed them.

    The rest of the questions were along the lines of "many months have 30 or 31 days but how many have 28 days?"

    Nobody scored 100%

    Hope this helps and good luck with your presentation.



  6. Being Present


    There has been some great discussion to pinpoint what you actually need, which is fantastic.

    I picked up your comment about being present. An activity that demonstrates this, is to ask the audience to work in pairs. Once in pairs, ask one person to be the listener and one to talk about something (give a subject or ask them to choose a hobby, their job etc). Instruct the listener to ignore the speaker for the first minute or so, then stop the activity and ask the listener to pay really good attention (eye contact, gestures etc) for a minute or so. Debrief on the difference in how it felt for the talker. It’s simple and easy and demonstrates the power of giving someone your full and undivided attention and making sure you are in a position to do so. IE: not say you’ll listen but only with half an ear.

    Use a timer and a loud noise to keep time and register the change over. Depending on how this event is running, you could set this up in advance by giving people a number or putting them on chairs (1 = talker, 2 = listener etc) so getting in pairs is pre-determined.

    With regards to some info on being present and also the idea that most people are able to find answers and think for themselves, have a look at Nancy Kline’s work, Time to Think, incorporating ‘A Thinking Environment’. If you google her you will reach her website which has lots of information should this be of interest.

    Hope this helps and enjoy your presentation.


  7. what are you doing when you are “listening”?

    I remember a list of things we tend to do when we think we are listening that I used to find helpful. You can give individuals the list and ask them to mark their own top three.

    The handout goes something like this:

    "When you are supposedly listening to someone, at least some of the time you are probably

    * thinking to what extent you agree with them

    * planning what to say to them when they pause

    * comparing their ideas to yours

    * thinking about someone they remind you of

    * wondering how to interrupt

    * remembering when something similar happened to you

    * drifting off into your own thoughts

    * noticing how they look.

    Now listen to your prtner and notice which you actually do."


  8. Use examples of miscommunication

    Since you don’t have much time, you need to quickly demonstrate your points. I think a good approach is to use examples. Play out an examples conversation where miscommunication takes place. Preferably use a story that has sense of humour as well which is easier for your audience to remember. You have several options here. You can explain the story, use  a recording of a conversation, display the conversation in a number of slides (if it is small enough) or if you have more resources get some people to act it out.

    When people see how a seemingly natural communication can go wrong, they can become more aware of the miscommunication, errors, bad beliefs & attitudes and hopefully avoid it next time when they find themselves in a similar situation.

    Communication exercises and training resources

    Hope this helps.

    Ehsan Honary

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