One of the biggest problems of interpersonal communication is that people don’t actually listen to each other. They spend more time thinking about what they are going to say when it’s their turn to speak rather than concentrating and actively listening to what the other person is saying.
However, listening is a crucial skill nowadays, and it would be extremely difficult for a leader to move anyone to action if they perceive they are not being listened to and their concerns are not addressed.
The Listening Evaluator is a special role that not all clubs have, and whose goal is to motivate people to listen carefully. To do so, the Listening Evaluator writes down, as the meeting proceeds, a series of questions about what has been said and by whom. The questions should be of general nature and not be excessively specific. After all, you want people to listen, not to take notes of speeches!. For example, a reasonable question would be:
“In John’s speech, who was the person that most influenced him?” or
“What did Ann think about the role of Technology in the current economic downturn?”
Inappropriate questions would be questions aiming for excessive factual details, such as:
“On which day was John born?” or
“In Ann’s speech, how many jobs did she say were lost due to outsourcing?”
“From which country was our guest?”
Aim for questions that can be answered with one or two sentences. The questions can be about anything of significance that has been said by any of the participants – by the Meeting Leader, or any of the Speakers, or Evaluators, or even the Hot Questions Speakers.
As with most roles, usually at the beginning of the meeting you will be called by the Meeting Leader to explain your role. Explain not only what you’re planning to do, but also why this is important. It is also important that people should not be taking any sort of notes or memorizing anything, and your questions should not require it. This is not realistic in an out of club environment. After all, when you’re talking informally to your boss, you’re not taking notes (unless you’re in North Korea).
A sample introduction could be something like
“Thank you Peter (the Meeting Leader). If you want to lead and influence people, it’s extremely important that you’re able to understand and address their concerns and motivations. Which is not that difficult, because most of the time they themselves will tell you which are those. The problem that most of us face, is that we don’t actually and actively listen to what others tell us, we merely think about what we’re going to say next. As a Listening Evaluator, my role will be to prepare a set of questions about what has been said during the meeting by any of the participants. The questions will be of generic nature, so don’t worry, this is not an exam about and you don’t need to be taking notes.”.
Try to write at least 5-6 questions to ask different people.
Usually, if someone is doing a speech project, it’s not a good idea to ask him about anything that was said before his speech. These speakers are too nervous and are completely focused on their speech, and that should be understood and respected. However, once they have delivered their project, the nervousness disappears and it’s completely fair game to ask them questions about what was said during that period.
As in the case of the Hot Questions, check with your VPE or Meeting Leader if it’s ok to ask guests or to ask for volunteers. And exactly as it was for that role, if you want to ask a guest or someone volunteers, that should happen before you ask the question.
For this part, and since the answers should be short (maximum one or two sentences), it’s not necessary to make people come to the stage, shake hands or applaud. Just pick your victim, and ask the question. If they fail to respond, ask the audience in general, in a non-judgmental way, for example:
“Peter, In John’s speech, who was the person that most influenced him?
Can’t remember? Anyone, can you help Peter? Who was the person that most influenced John’s life?”
If no one remembers, then maybe your question was too specific or on some detail that wasn’t really memorable. Whatever the reason, you should provide an answer.