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Listening Skills: An Integral And Important Part Of Communication

It was the day when the HOD or Heads of Department meeting was to happen. I was excited because I had to make a presentation to all the HODs as
20 Oct 2018 10:41
Listening Skills: An Integral And Important Part Of Communication
Mayur Kalbag

It was the day when the HOD or Heads of Department meeting was to happen.

I was excited because I had to make a presentation to all the HODs as well as some foreign visi­tors who had been invited to be­come of a part of this meeting.

For two days I practiced my vari­ous presentation skills.

I even stood in front of the mirror and delivered a mock – presenta­tion to boost up my self-confidence.

It was exactly 4pm and the HOD meeting started.

The CEO thanked all the manag­ers and the HODs for sincerely at­tending the meeting and specially acknowledged the presence of all the foreign visitors.

“Today, we have with us Mayur Kalbag, he has created a special presentation for us and especially for those visitors who have come all the way from Indonesia.

I now request Mayur to come and deliver his presentation” Say­ing this the CEO walked back to his chair and hand-gestured me to come to the center-point.

I took a deep breath, stood up and confidently walked straight ahead. I looked at all the people gathered and began my presentation with tremendous confidence.

If was a fifteen-minute presenta­tion and by the response of the en­tire audience I knew I had done a good job! I even handled the Q&A or Questions & Answers session ef­fectively and was able to respond to all the audience-questions positive­ly. I thanked everyone and returned to my chair to a vibrant applause!

But, what happened next changed my entire perception about the sub­ject of Presentation & Communica­tion.

After my presentation there were another three more that happened and then all of a sudden I heard someone mentioning my name. “So Mr. Kalbag, regarding the export strategy about which your col­league just presented, what is your opinion? I was suddenly caught off-guard by this question.

“I think the strategy is excellent and we should go for it.”

I exclaimed almost spontaneously, without thinking much.

“Oh really, and why is that? Could you explain the reasons why you have perceived this particular ex­port strategy as ‘excellent’? The CEO persisted.

I was really not expecting this kind of a question and that too from the CEO himself. It felt like I was falling into an abyss.

I was completely blank in my mind and had no answer to the question posed by the CEO and the reason for that is simple.

I was not listening to the presen­tations at all. I was more involved in looking at my cellphone and checking my messages as well as responding to some official emails while the other presentations were going on.

It was because of this I had almost competely detached myself from the rest of the presentations in­cluding the one on Export Strategy.

I noticed each and every one in that room was looking at me and keenly awaiting my response to the question. “Sir, the strategy is excellent because it will be good for the organization” I nervously responded.

“But how will it be good for the organization?” the CEO asked in a rather firm tone.

This time though I really had no answer and sat there with a de­pressed expression.

It was one of the most embarrass­ing moments I had faced especially in my professional life.

One of my colleagues who was seated beside me saved me from more embarrassment by coming to my rescue.

He took the initiative to answer the CEO’s question on my behalf.

The HOD meeting got over and as I was about to leave the room the CEO asked me stay back. He then started addressing me.

“Mr. Kalbag, How do you think your presentation was? He asked.

“I believe it was good” I answered with half a smile.

“No…it was not just good, it was brilliant” he responded but with a serious expression over his face and then he continued to talk to me.

“Dear Mayur, although you pre­sented extremely well I would like to affirm that you have been a fail­ure as an overall ‘presenter’ and do you want to know the reason as to why I feel that way?” He asked.

“Yes Sir, I nervously responded.

“Mayur, I was noticing you and what I saw really made me not just disappointed but even very irri­tated.

From the time you completed your presentation and returned to your chair, I saw that you were on your cellphone almost all the time.

You did not care about the other presenters and the interactive dis­cussions that followed.

Where was your focus? Was it on the other presentations and the subsequent interactions or was it on your ‘cellphone messages or probably the videos you might have been watching?’

Is this how you would define your­self as an excellent presenter? I asked you to wait here because I wanted to let you know that al­though your presentation was very good, you’re ‘Listening Attitude’ was the worst.

Even the visitors noticed how blank and nervous you were when I asked you about the export strat­egy.

As a CEO it was embarrassing to even me to see you completely blank in your mind and also in your facial expressions.

The reason I am sharing all this with you is because I want you to change your entire perception about the subject of Presentation and Communication.

The first thing you must remem­ber is that ‘Listening’ is as much a part of presentation or communi­cation as ‘Speaking’.

In your case, after you delivered your presentation you thought your role was over and you felt ab­solutely fine to completely disasso­ciate yourself from the subsequent presentations and discussions” The CEO’s words were hitting me hard and I felt really bad. “I am re­ally sorry about this Sir” I said to him. “It is not about your ‘sorry” dear Mayur.

I want you to develop the right attitude and also the right skills related to the Art of Listening. Tomorrow morning at 9am I want you and three other colleagues in your team to meet me in the confer­ence room. I will be investing my one hour with all of you in shar­ing the important tips and aspects of Listening” Saying this the CEO wished me best for the day and walked towards his desk leaving me with a new way of looking at the subject of Listening and its role in presentation & Communication.

In my next column I shall high­light the specific as well as signifi­cant tips and aspects related to the topic of Listening!

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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