Classroom (and church!) listening skills
- By mastering the art of effective listening, you will profit
from even the most boring classroom and church speakers.
- Effective listeners choose to find value in lectures and
sermons, uncovering new knowledge beyond the surface.
- Rather than dismissing or impulsively reacting to disagreeable
ideas, effective listeners remain open-minded and seek more information before drawing
- Effective listeners maximize understanding and retention by focusing on key concepts,
adapting note-taking strategies, and embracing challenging material.
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. 🙂
- Choose to find the subject useful.
- Poor listeners dismiss most lectures as dull and irrelevant. They turn
- Effective listeners separate the wheat from the chaff. They choose to listen
to discover new knowledge.
- Concentrate on the words and message, not on the professor's looks,
clothes, or delivery.
- Poor listeners notice faults in a lecturer's appearance or delivery.
- Effective listeners strive to pick every professor's brain for
- When you hear something you're not sure you agree with, react slowly and
- Poor listeners stop listening to the speaker and start listening to
themselves. They either passively reject what is being said, or they launch into impassioned
rebuttals (to themselves).
- Effective listeners don't jump to conclusions and then disengage. They
keep conclusions tentative while getting more information.
- Identify the "big ideas," those fundamental concepts to which everything
else in the lecture is related.
- Poor listeners say, "I listen only for facts." They may retain a few of
those facts, but the information is usually garbled.
- Effective listeners look for foundational concepts. They grab key ideas
and use them as anchor points for the entire lecture.
- Adjust your note-taking system to the lecturer's pattern.
- Some poor listeners attempt to outline everything, believing an
outline and notes are the same thing. They get frustrated when they cannot see "points A, B, and
- Effective listeners adjust their note-taking to the organizational pattern
a lecturer uses.
- Poor listeners let their minds wander.
- Effective listeners remain focused and actively try to absorb material.
- Aggressively tackle difficult material.
- When poor listeners encounter a tough topic, they stop absorbing and
start letting things simply bounce off them.
- Effective listeners condition themselves to be interested in challenging
matters. They find a challenge in grasping the meaning of what is being said -- no matter how
difficult the subject.
- Don't get derailed by emotionally charged "buzz" words that trigger negative
- Poor listeners tune people out on the basis of a few words.
- Effective listeners don't let the emotional baggage of one word or phrase
hinder them from getting at the substance of a lecture.
- Get to know the professor personally.
- Poor listeners see professors as talking heads.
- Effective listeners like to pick up interesting facts about professors,
such as personal history, family life, and hobbies.
- 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
- Poor listeners drift back and forth between listening to a lecture and
thinking about other things.
- Effective listeners use the thinking/speaking differential in three ways:
- Riding the crest of the wave by trying to anticipate the next point of the lecture.
- Evaluating what the lecturer is using for supporting evidence.
- Periodically summarizing the lecture to themselves.
- Choose to be intentionally present.
- It can be difficult not to look at your phone to check a message or comment on a
Facebook status you just posted. If you want to be a better listener, turn off your phone or silence
it. Eliminate distractions and focus on the person talking.
Sparked by material in "The Professor in the Classroom," © by Leadership Lane
After learning to be a good listener, what's next?
|Are there other steps you can take to improve your
grades? Yes, there are. [ more
-- Howard Culbertson,
More for you on doing well in class
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