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Be a good listener but also speak up

Written by Jon Lam on Tuesday, 03 August 2021. Posted in Leadership, People

We are often reminded of the old adage that we “were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason.” It is so we can listen more than we speak.

Be a good listener but also speak up

We are often reminded of the old adage that we “were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason.” It is so we can listen more than we speak. However, after missing out on many opportunities in my professional life by simply being a ‘good listener’, I realised that I needed to start opening my mouth more. As the saying by Mahatma Gandhi goes, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get it.” This does not mean that you will get everything you want by simply asking for it though, since it often depends on how you communicate the ask. 

And that is why I decided to embark on a journey to enhance my communication skills by exploring the world of public speaking. If you are a reluctant speaker, read on to learn why keeping your mouth shut might be ruining your opportunities to get ahead in your professional life.

You will miss out on professional advancement opportunities

Successful businesses are often spearheaded by strong leaders and it’s often those who speak up that get elected for leadership positions. Susan Cain, author of the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” explains that “extroverts are routinely chosen for leadership positions and introverts are looked over, even though introverts often deliver better outcomes.” This is because they are not considered as “leadership material”. 

There is therefore a strong case to develop your public speaking skills so that you can communicate effectively with your peers. By doing this, you will gain more visibility in your organisation and strengthen your credibility to take on leadership positions. Start developing this skill by taking on any presentation opportunity that arises at work, even if you feel apprehensive. You will find it increasingly comfortable to speak in public with consistent practice. 

You might lose out on opportunities to collaborate  

Finding common ground with others is often a crucial step taken when trying to build partnerships. Unless you meet someone who can mind-read, you’ll most likely have to tell them about your ideas. Again, this is where public speaking comes in. I recall practicing my speaking skills, specifically voice projection and good body posture before daring to talk at events. And after sharing my ideas at these events, I was approached by like-minded attendees who resonated with my ideas. These meaningful connections resulted in new business partnership opportunities that would not have happened if I had not learned to communicate my ideas in an engaging manner.   

When speaking at any event, it is important to first have a grasp on the audience that you are speaking to. After this step, leverage effective techniques, such as humour to share your ideas in an engaging manner. By doing so, you will increase the chances of creating new connections with others who resonate with your ideas and who might turn into potential business partners.   

Start speaking up now

It is important to listen, but had I only listened, I would have missed out on countless professional opportunities. By learning how to speak publicly, you will be harnessing communication, one of the most important skills any leader can possess. Furthermore, you will also open up more chances to collaborate with new business partners. Start speaking up at any opportunity as you will feel your confidence gradually grow through consistent practice. 

About the Author

Jon Lam

Jon Lam is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management.

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