Classroom (and Church!) Listening Skills

Are you an effective listener?

"Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly" -- Plutarch (46 AD - 120 AD)

Top ten ways to listen to boring speakers

Former University of Minnesota professor Ralph Nichols has been called "the father of listening." His research showed that at the end of a 10-minute lecture, most college freshmen will have retained about half of it. Forty-eight hours later, they will have forgotten half of what they did remember.

Want to do better than that? Then, use effective listening techniques. Here are the "Top ten ways to listen to a lecture." By the way, these are also valid suggestions to remember when listening to a sermon. 🙂

  1. Choose to find the subject useful.
  2. Concentrate on the words and message, not on the professor's looks, clothes, or delivery.
  3. When you hear something you're not sure you agree with, react slowly and thoughtfully
  4. Identify the "big ideas," those fundamental concepts to which everything else in the lecture is related.
  5. Adjust your note-taking system to the lecturer's pattern.
  6. Aggressively tackle difficult material.
  7. Don't get derailed by emotionally charged "buzz" words that trigger negative responses.
  8. Get to know the professor personally.
  9. Understand and use the differential between the speed of speaking and the speed of thinking. We think at about 400 words per minute. That's four times faster than most speakers talk.
  10. Choose to be intentionally present.

Sparked by material in "The Professor in the Classroom," © by Leadership Lane

After learning to be a good listener, what's next?

Next Are there other steps you can take to improve your grades? Yes, there are. [ more ]

    -- Howard Culbertson,


Being an effective listener when someone is giving a lecture, doing a presentation or preaching a sermon is crucial for understanding and retaining information. Here are some strategies to help you become a better listener:

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