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Student Success

  Listening Skills
Mastering the skill of listening is a direct link to earning excellent grades. A general misconception is that listening is hearing. Listening takes energy and concentration. The majority of us are poor listeners because we cannot stay focused on the speaker or the topic. Mistakes on exams, interviews and personal relationships come from poor listening skills.

The average individual is capable of listening to 800 words a minute however; instructors normally speak at 200 words a minute. Because the rate of speech is slower than we can think, our minds wander during the gap. The object is to focus and concentrate on the speaker.

Methods to Become a Good Listener:

  • Stop talking – By dominating the conversation we do not have the opportunity to listen.
  • Sit in the front of the room – Sit up straight and in front of the instructor so you will be least likely to be distracted.
  • Focus – Human nature makes our minds wander so you need to develop methods to catch yourself when your thoughts drift. When your mind wanders bring it back. Sit up straighter, put both feet on the floor and take more notes.
  • Maintain eye contact - with the instructor. Keep looking at the speaker.
  • Do not criticize - Leave your opinions outside of the classroom. Do not critique the speaker’s style, dress or mannerisms. Concentrate on the content of the lecture.
  • Minimize your distractions - Move away from disruptive students, doors, windows, etc.
  • Watch for the instructor’s body language and special words – The instructor’s body language, expressions and special phrases are alerts that vital information is being discussed.
  • Ask questions – If you are unclear of the information, ask for clarification.
  • Be prepared for class - Read the notes from the previous lecture shortly before class. If you know the topic of the next lecture, read ahead so you will be familiar with the topic before entering the class.
  • Do not doodle – Doodling prevents you from listening.
Listening is an active skill. It requires concentration. Listening leads to understanding the facts.

Be Smart. Ask for help when you need it. Everyone does from time to time.

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