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Blog : Attention please!


Attention please!

Picture this: an employee stands up at a company meeting. He has had an idea which, in his mind, could revolutionise the way the company does business. He begins…

‘So, you’re probably all completely uninterested in what I’m about to say and even those of you who are paying attention are probably mentally planning tonight’s dinner. To be honest, my idea is just a little thought that crossed my mind and it’s not the most important thing in the world. In fact, here’s a copy of today’s Metro to take your minds off what I’m about to say…’

Sound ridiculous? Believe it or not, there are many people who essentially, speak in this way. We just don’t know we’re doing it. Whilst we may not literally pass round newspapers as an alternative to listening, we often forget that our communicative style strongly influences the impact of our argument.  Let it be known that you doubt others’ interest in what you’re saying, and you may as well be speaking from beneath the table.

It’s easy to negate your opinion before beginning, excusing yourself from what you’re about to say, because ‘it’s only a minor point’ and you assume others won’t want to listen. In reality, when speaking in such a way, you’ll not only falter and fail to deliver with confidence and conviction, but simultaneously, people will have switched their focus elsewhere before you’ve made your point.

In his piece for Harvard Business Review ‘7 Ways to Capture Someone’s Attention’, Ben Parr comments, “Attention is the most important currency that anybody can give you…Steve Rubel of Edelman once told me. “It’s worth more than money, possessions or things.””. This is why it is important to realise the value of effective delivery and not be tempted to weaken your own case simply to please others. Instead, by communicating the crux of your subject swiftly and succinctly whilst recognising that your opinion does matter, you’ll cut through self-doubt and give yourself a voice. As a result your audience are more likely to sit up and listen and they’ll respect you for bringing something new to the table.

Next time you want to speak up, ask yourself: Am I bringing my case to the table or speaking from beneath it? 

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