How To Talk So People Listen To You

How to make people listen to you
Do you often feel ignored when you say something?

Maybe you speak up in a group but no one pays attention. Then someone interrupts over you and instantly has the spotlight.

Or it seems everyone is always speaking over each other; their ideas get noticed but when you try…nothing.

Plenty of my readers have mentioned this problem. And in the TED talk titled “How to Speak So People Want to Listen,” Julian Treasure gives great tips to stop being ignored. Julian is an expert on sound and speech so he’s someone to listen to in this area.

I’ve included the talk below and summarized his main points. But I’ve also included insights of my own on ways to be heard and respected in more casual settings.


4 Top Tips to Get People Listening To You

So I agree with everything Julian Treasure said in his talk and I’ve included his main points below.

But from my experience, here are a few pointers on being heard and respected more relevant to everyday casual chat.

1. Increase Your Eye Contact

Good eye contact engages others. Think about that tingle you feel when you make eye contact with someone. Others feel that too. That’s human connection. You’re sensing the presence of another human being. When you don’t make regular eye contact, others don’t feel that “tingle” from you. In my experience, this is a major reason people get ignored.

2. Raise Your Level of Confidence

If you feel deep down what you have to say isn’t interesting or important, that will change how you interact with others. It affects your voice tone and volume. Your face gives off “micro-expressions” you can’t control, but others subconsciously notice. All in all, this causes people to discount what you say as unimportant. In other words, when YOU believe you’ll say boring stuff, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you want help on becoming more confident, sign up for my newsletter here.

3. Improve Your Voice Tone And Volume

Your vocal qualities are greatly influenced by your confidence and level of shyness. But you can work to improve them individually. So a lot of what Treasure said in his talk is useful for that. I’ve found having more volume and a slower pace (but not drawl-ish) are the most important qualities to focus on first. Because others often stereotype speaking quietly and quickly as low-value cues.

4. Be Mindful The Expectation Of Others

If you’ve long been the quiet person in a certain group, it’s likely they’ve gotten into a habit of ignoring you. So even if you start being more assertive, they might still pay you little attention. If this is the case, I often advise people to try branching out into other groups and being assertive there. The new group often responds better from the start. Then, the confidence this builds often work wonders when you come back to that original group later.

Julian Treasure’s Main Points To Speak And Be Heard

So Treasure focuses more on speaking for special occasions like a job interview or a wedding speech. But his ideas can still help us in any social situation.

Here are some of his main points from the talk.

7 Deadly Sins Of Speaking

  1. Gossip – Speaking ill of someone who’s not present. People disregard gossipers because they worry later, they’ll be gossiping about them.
  2. Judging – It’s hard to listen to someone if you know you’re being judged and found wanting.
  3. Negativity – We all have our bad days but no one will keep listening to constant cynicism.
  4. Complaining – This is another form of negativity and again, constantly complaining just pushes others away.
  5. Excuses – People don’t respect those who won’t take responsibility for their own lives.
  6. Exaggeration – Too many tall tales can cause others to roll their eyes and tune you out.
  7. Dogmatism – When someone insists their ideas are the only way things can be, that kills debate AND the patience of others.

4 Cornerstones of Powerful Speech

Use the acronym HAIL:

  • H for Honesty – Not necessarily absolute honesty as in “You look horrible today dear.” But honesty tempered by love (below).
  • A for Authenticity – “Standing in your own truth.”
  • I for Integrity – Be your word. Do what you say and live up to your own ideals.
  • L for Love – Not romantic love, but simply wishing people well.

Spice Up Your Vocals

It’s not just what you say but how you say it.

  • Register – People associate vocal depth with power and authority. Try speaking “from your chest.”
  • Timber – The way your voice “feels.” Warm like hot chocolate is good.
  • Prosody – Don’t be monotone. Have some variation in your tone of voice.
  • Pace – Not too fast and not too slow. But DO change pace at times.
  • Silence – There’s nothing wrong with a bit of silence. Pepper it in to keep people engaged.
  • Pitch – Put emphasis on important words and points.
  • Volume – You need to be loud enough but also try being quiet to bring people in.

All great points but as I mentioned above, one of the best ways to stop being ignored is to build genuine confidence. Because it prompts others to respect you even if you aren’t super successful, attractive or charming.

(“As seen on Halsted Mt” by Leah Jones is licensed under CC by 2.0)

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