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Some Tips for Effective Listening

Listening is a conscious process. It requires planning, focus, organization and commitment. Effective listening doesn't just happen. Following are some suggestions or helpful hints to help you plan for and work at effective listening.

Reduce or eliminate distractions. Don't clutter your desk or table with unnecessary items, such as books and personal belongings. Remove from your view anything that may distract you. Place only a pad of paper and a pen on the desk. Possibly you should even consider not taking a seat near the window if the view would distract you.

Prepare for the speaker or instructor by attempting to find out something about this person. Have you ever heard him or her speak before? What type of speaker is he? Do you know others who are familiar with the speaker?

Prepare for the topic to be discussed or presented by reading or reviewing notes covering the principal subjects. Prepare for what you will listen to by knowing something about the subject matter ahead of time.

Anticipate what you hope to get from the presentation. Why are you attending this lecture? How does this lecture help meet your needs or long-range goals? How can you use this information?

Be positive. Approach the lecture or presentation with a positive attitude. Do not prejudge the speaker or the message. If you anticipate a boring speech from a dull speaker, then this is what you will hear. On the other hand, if you anticipate an outstanding presentation from an excellent speaker, you'll also get what you expect. Taking a positive attitude into the lecture hall will enhance the listening process.

If you have done all of these things, you have physically and mentally prepared the groundwork for the actual process of listening effectively.