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How to speak so that people will listen, according to a renowned expert

Do you ever feel that when you’re speaking, nobody’s listening?

Do you sometimes find it difficult to make your point among friends or colleagues?

We all struggle to be heard in this fast-moving world, where we’re constantly being bombarded by opinions and tweets.

Time to turn things around. Check out the following tips and tricks of public speaking expert Julian Treasure from his viral TED talk (watch below) and never be ignored again!

Abandon the “7 deadly sins of speaking”…

The first thing to do according to Treasure is to move away from some habits we all have and which prevent us from being heard.

First, stop gossiping — as fun as it may seem to be, you give an untrustworthy impression to others.

Second, don’t judge. It’s hard to listen to somebody if you know this person is judging you.

Third, leave behind the negativity. No one likes to listen to negative people.

Number four is a tough one — stop complaining. Sometimes it feels like a national sport, Treasure says, as we all love to complain about the weather, sports, politics, everything basically. But all it really does is spreading “viral misery”.

Five, don’t be a blamethrower. It’s hard to listen to someone that always passes responsibility on to others.

Number six: embroidery and exaggeration — it demeans our language, Treasure explains, and finally turns into lying. And who listens to liars?

Finally, on number 7, dogmatism. Or as Treasure puts it: “The confusion of facts with opinions. When those two things get conflated, you’re listening into the wind.”

…And instead apply these 4 cornerstones of powerful speaking

So now we know what not to do if we want to make ourselves heard. But what do we need to do?

Julian Treasure outlines 4 foundations we can stand on if we want our speech to be powerful. To make it easier on us, they spell a word together — HAIL. Let’s see what’s behind these mysterious 4 letters.

H stands for honesty. Be true and clear in what you say.

A is authenticity. Be authentic, be yourself, stand in your own truth.

I — integrity. Do what you say and be someone others can trust.

L finally stands for love. Not in the romantic sense, but as wishing other people well.

So HAIL and be heard — apply these 4 cornerstones to your communication and people will truly start listening to you.

What you say and how you say it

Your voice is an amazing toolbox, Treasure explains, “and yet, this is a toolbox that very few people have ever opened.” He pulls out the following instruments to help increase the power of your speaking.

Most of the time we speak from our throat, but if you want weight, go to the chest. “We vote for politicians with lower voices, because we associate depth with power and with authority”, according to Treasure.

Next, the importance of prosody, or “the sing-song, the meta-language we all use to impart meaning” in Treasure’s words. Think of your “song” when speaking, use several notes — people who speak monotonously are very hard to listen to.

Two more to go — speed and volume. Don’t speak too quickly or to slowly if you want to keep people’s attention. But don’t be afraid to slow down or pause where you want to put emphasis. As Treasure puts it: “There’s nothing wrong with a bit of silence in a talk, is there? We don’t have to fill it with ums and ahs. It can be very powerful.”

Think of your volume as well, don’t be either annoyingly loud or invisibly quiet. Don’t impose your sound on others but be pleasant to listen to, and adapt your volume to your message.

Towards a world that sounds beautiful

Follow these tips and tricks and make your voice heard. It may take some time to practice, but it will pay off, both in your private and professional environment.

To finish off, Julian Treasure puts his recommendations in a broader context: “What would the world be like if we were speaking powerfully to people who were listening consciously in environments which were actually fit for purpose? Or to make that a bit larger, what would the world be like if we were creating sound consciously and consuming sound consciously and designing all our environments consciously for sound? That would be a world that does sound beautiful, and one where understanding would be the norm, and that is an idea worth spreading.”


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Written by Gosia Kurowska

Gosia Kurowska was born in Poland and has lived in Belgium before moving to Thailand recently. She has worked for the EU institutions as a speechwriter and press officer for several years. She now launched her own blog on handmade fashion and jewelry from Thailand/Asia, treasurista.com.

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