This is my second step on Toastmaster journey . Additionally I have started participating in club activities (like word/thought of the day ,grammarian etc. ) proactively . I can immediately see the improvements , not only in my speech – but overall my look towards reading articles , blogs etc.

Toastmaster prepared speech second project is “Organize your speech“. Objectives of this project are

  • Select outline that will allow listeners to easily follow and understand your speech.
  • Make your message clear with supporting material directly contributing to that message.
  • Appropriate transitions when moving from one idea to another.
  • Create strong opening and conclusion.
This time my speech is just little above 6 minutes and I had to keep an eye on time limit. I think to end comfortably ,I need to end it within 6 minutes while practicing itself.

Purpose of the topic is to improve my own listening skills as well as to understand more about listening skills. I think this is highly ignored ,but very important soft skill.

Again Six minutes blog was extremely helpful in drafting the speech and supporting material for the speech came from various books and Google search.

Here is the draft of speech.

Toastmasters – Find a Gold mine !

Are you able to hear me ? You and You ?
And are you listening too … ?

Yes – There is world of difference in hearing and listening. One is just input and other is Intake. If you are not listening , you will not understood , worst is you might misunderstood . No wonder Turkish has a saying which says “If speaking is silver , listening is Gold !”.

And Fellow Toastmasters I am going to talk about this gold – Listening Skills. I will talk about three points ,One – importance of listening . Two – difficulty in listening . Three – overcoming the difficulty.

First about Importance. Listening is important . Listening was sole means of communication ,since when books were not available . Till today it is important.You listen to your Boss , subordinates and colleagues . You listen to your friends , childrens and spouse too . Off-course they always complains that you don’t listen. But still fact remains that it is important skill. Researchers have found that professionals earn 45% of their salary from listening ,executives and managers upto 70%. So as you move up to lead , listening skills becomes more and more important. It can lead you to higest level. For example Buddha’s the most charismatic thought leader of his time , was great listener , who listened everything around him. This is always symbolized by long ears in his statues. So bottom line is listening is very , very ,very important – I would say if speaking is silver ,listening is goldmine.

But then what stops us from getting this goldmine ? There is a pecularity about spoken word. You have always only once chance to listen !. Buddha had compared it with Arrow , Today we can think of bullet . Once it is fired , Gone !!. See on other side speaking is faster than reading .Listening is still faster. It is 10 times faster. So 90% of speaking time “Listener” is idle , it is waiting. 90% ! That is a lot of time. And this empty listening mind , devils house flickers , loose focus , it can’t concentrate. Ultimately your listening quality drops down. very much natural cycle.

But wait , don’t panic. There is a solution . Listening is a skill and can be nurtured too. First you can use 7 steps given in Toastmasters leadership manual. ( I was not aware of it ,when I started preparing for the speech .) That will help you to build your awareness at external level . Second -I will tell you a simple exercise , that will take hardly your one minute and you can practice anywhere. ( I picked it from Marshal Goldsmith’s bestseller – what got you here won’t get you there ). Close your eyes and count 1 to 50 slowly , calmly in your mind. And try to listen to it. Seems very easy ,but not so . You have to listen so that your attention is 100% .but you will find that all sorts of thoughts creep in. Problems at work , home will prop up. May be your hunger or thirst will strike you and you will find that it is impossible to focus. But please keep practicing .It is just a minute or so , you can practice simply while you are traveling or when you are about to sleep . And over certain days you will find that you are able to count without loosing attentiveness/focus. That is key. Slowly your awarenss while listening will increase multi-fold. you can focus with your will and your listening skills will improve dramatically.

Thus in conclusion – we saw importance of listening skill . we understand the root cause in listening attentively . At the end we have seen the solution at external and internal level too. This is bound to improve your listening. We already have a silver by practicing speaking , so lets get gold by practicing listening. I urge all of you to practice & find that goldmine of listening skills.