To achieve Step 4, individuals will show that they have considered what their listeners already know when they are speaking.
In Step 3, individuals focused on how to speak effectively by making points in a logical order. Step 4 builds on this by considering what listeners already know, so what they say is pitched at the right level.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
Being an effective speaker is about being able to share ideas and build understanding in your listeners. Therefore, good speaking means thinking about how best to help your listeners to understand you.
When we speak, we all have a view on what our listeners already know – we might call this an expectation or an assumption. For example:
If the listeners understand less than we assume:
On the other hand, if listeners understand more than we assume:
As a result, it is crucial to think about what listeners already understand so that what you are saying is targeted at just the right level – not too simple and not too complicated.
If you are not sure about what listeners already know, you can ask some simple questions to help work it out.
Once you know how much they know, you can change how you talk, to make sure you don’t repeat information they already have.
If you cannot tell whether you are managing to target what you are saying at the right level, then you can always ask little checking questions as you go.
In school or college, we sometimes have to talk to others about a topic which we may have been studying in class or on our own. When the class has studied the topic together, everyone is likely to be at a similar place in terms of understanding and you will be aware of what your classmates already know. However, you may be asked to talk about a hobby or interest, something which you know lots about but others may have no experience or knowledge. Building a clear understanding of what the listeners already know will be more important in the second situation. Others will be more interested and keener to learn if it is set at a level which stimulates interest rather than overwhelms or confuses them.
In the workplace, colleagues often have a specialist language which can be understood by many people in the same organisation. However, when speaking with others outside that workplace, extra care has to be taken not to assume they have an understanding of specific terms, people or events. Explanation of a term can provide the listener with a clear understanding, particularly where they have a similar knowledge but perhaps use different vocabulary.
In sales and marketing, particular care has to be taken to start from a point of customer knowledge as the listener will soon be bored and the sale lost, if the customer is not engaged by the speaker.
In the wider world, we may be called upon to explain our interests, how to do something, or chat in our general conversation with others about recent experiences and activities. When speaking in each of these situations it would be easy to cause disinterest or boredom if something was so basic and already understood by the listener. In much the same way, talking in detail about a specific interest, at too high a level, with associated language, may frustrate and disengage a listener unfamiliar with your topic.
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 is a step that can be easily reinforced in the classroom setting. For example:
This step is best assessed through observation of interaction in the classroom. For example:
This step will be relevant to everyone who uses verbal communication regularly in their work, especially those who use it to build or put forward ideas.
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: