At some point, you will have been in a meeting and felt that no one was listening to you. Perhaps people were on their phone, looking confused, talking over you or ignoring you. It’s hard to continue speaking when it seems that people are switching off, disengaged or rejecting your ideas.
So how do you make sure that people listen, care and take action on your ideas? There are three areas you need to focus on:
How can you be heard when people don’t want to listen?
Content – Focus on them
Often you will find that people switch off because they don’t understand why they should listen. We all have busy lives, with countless emails and meetings where we are given information. We can’t retain all of it so our mind sifts through it and focuses on what it feels is most important.
So, I always recommend that you do two things. Before you give someone information explain what the benefits will be for people listening to you. How will it help them? What will they personally gain from the conversation?
Secondly ask yourself, ‘What do I want people to do after the meeting?’ Be very clear about the action you would like them to take, or what new way of thinking you want them to have.
Prime their minds to listen to you. If you focus on benefits first this will make them much more likely to take action at the end, because you won them from the start.
Style – Focus on service
The next piece to think about is your style.
The way in which you communicate is going to have a huge impact on how intently people listen to you. If you say the same words with a different style you can end up delivering a completely different message.
Some people say, “I’m just going to be myself, and behave the way that feels comfortable.” This means you are just going to display any distracting habits that have built up during your career and now feel comfortable to you. Your old pyjamas are comfortable too, but you wouldn’t wear them for a presentation. So put down your old habits so that you can bring your words to life.
Think about style this way – your job is to physically and vocally bring to life the words in a way that an email can’t. So engage your face, voice, arms and posture. Focus on how you want people to feel and let this guide your behaviour. Drop the professional poker face and connect.
Mindset – It’s Everything
The third and final part is mindset.
Many people have brilliant communication styles in day-to-day life. You sit with them in the office and have a lovely time with them because they’re engaging and interesting to be around. But we all know that you can go into a meeting with great content and style only to buckle under pressure and have the whole thing fall apart.
Having a good mindset is key.
This means removing negative self-talk and anxiety. There’s a voice in your head that might say, “I can’t do this. It’s going to go badly and be a total disaster.”
This is known as your monkey mind.
This part of your mind is trying to protect you from pain and keep you alive. It says all of these things to stop you from being rejected. You need to flip things around and find a way to calm your monkey mind.
You can do this by saying to yourself, “I’m in the right place,” which the monkey mind can’t disagree with. You are in the correct building, in the correct meeting room, and it’s a really nice way to pacify it.
If you say that sort of thing over and over to your monkey mind, it starts to think, “Yes, I am in the right place. I should just relax.” Then it will switch off and let you perform at your best.
You can use a similar technique to flip any anxiety you may have over presenting. Anxiety tends to be just visualizing things going badly. Instead, you can imagine things going the way you’d like them to, which will put you in a much calmer state of mind.