As a speaker, listening is critical to a successful appearance for me. Long before I get on the stage or interact with an audience I am using what I call influential listening skills. When I talk with a Booker, Meeting Planner or anyone from a Speakers Bureau I stop what I’m doing and focus on the conversation. If I don’t I’m dead in the water. Meaning, how can I understand the desired outcome, negotiate with a clear head and make sure we both are on the same page if I’m not truly listening.

How many of you in sales are frustrated when a deal falls apart? Were you truly paying attention and listening to what the client was conveying? Too often especially when selling we listen to reply not to understand. Think you’re not in sales and this doesn’t apply? We are all is sales! Ever negotiate with a lawn service, your kids to do homework, your significant other on where you want to go to dinner? I thought so.

The top influential listening skill is focusing on the conversation not what you’re going to say next. To get to that point you have to stop multi-tasking. Quit answering email and even texting when you’re on the phone. If a nanny cam was trained on you during a conference call what would you be doing? Clear the mind clutter. Take some deep breaths and give your brain a break from to-do lists and what’s next on the agenda. If it’s noisy and you’re distracted call the person back.

If the interaction is in person turn your phone off. Ask questions to show you are paying attention and  know exactly what’s being said. Listening skills are critical now more than ever in a world with shrinking attention spans.  If you can master becoming an Influential Listener you’ll cultivate deeper connections and reap the rewards of bigger and better business deals.