To achieve Step 10, individuals will show that they are aware of the response of their listeners, and that they can change their language, tone and expression accordingly.
Up to now, the steps have been focused on how to speak clearly so that an individual can be understood, then how to speak effectively so that the order of words is logical and meaningful, and then thinking about how to make speech more engaging by using facts, examples, and visual aids.
The focus is now on the ability to speak adaptability, responding to the listeners to communicate their ideas more effectively.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
Being able to read your audience is one of the things that distinguish good communicators. If you can read your audience, you have a way of getting instant feedback about whether you are achieving your goals as a speaker.
Before you even start communicating, you make sure you are adapting to them by thinking about some of these questions:
Careful preparation will help set you up for success. However, adaptive speakers are also able to react to how they see the audience, and this uses lots of the skills steps that are part of Listening.
The good news is that your listeners are probably not thinking about their body language and so you can get honest insight into how they are feeling. Some of the things to look for are:
If you have lots of listeners, then it is important not to just read one or two of your audience members (your eyes might be drawn to those with the strongest reactions) but to keep looking at different audience members to read what they are thinking.
It is possible to change the mood of an audience quite quickly if you are able to adapt your language, tone and expression.
In subsequent steps, we will look at how you can plan for different responses from your audience and how you adjust for them. We will also look at how you adapt your content to keep your listeners engaged.
The ability to present to others engagingly is an asset in any educational setting. Your friends and peers will appreciate your ability and tend to find you interesting to listen to. However, mastering this step of Speaking, and the following steps, will raise your speaking skills to a significantly higher level than many others around you. The challenge in school or college is to identify as many opportunities as possible to speak in front of others, so you can start to read an audience and recognise the response of the listeners. Every group of listeners is different and every group response unique, therefore practise is the key to learning and mastering this step.
The reason for speaking to others in the workplace is often to persuade or convince the listener, this is particularly the case when speaking to your manager, a customer or a new client. The listener is only going to be persuaded or convinced if you have their full attention and they trust or believe what you are saying. It is therefore imperative, if you are to win them over, that you can identify when you are losing or confusing them. The ability to adapt your content or style to maintain engagement or re-engage them, is an extremely powerful skill.
Socially, in the wider world, we speak to many different people, not necessarily in terms of a formal presentation, but going about our normal business in our everyday life; the bus driver, the shopkeeper, doctor, policeman, members of a club or choir, as well as our friends and neighbours. In the wider world, if someone is not understanding we may have already learned to simply repeat ourselves. However, by mastering this step you will be able to adapt your words in a variety of ways to accommodate the listener, and not rely on repetition.
To best practise this step of Speaking, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step,and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step is more difficult to practice in the day to day of the classroom. However, for extended presentations and other pieces of presented work, it would be worth reminding learners about the value of trying to read their audience and adapting their tone and expression to engage them best. Presentations in assemblies or other events also provide an excellent opportunity for this.
It is also possible at points for the teacher to pause teaching and to model how they are reading their audience and adapting to their reactions.
This step is best assessed through observation and reflection with the learner. For example:
This step will be relevant to those who will speak to others in order to engage or persuade them.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through observation. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: