Effective Listeners are Effective Speakers

iStock_000012200839_SmallAuthor Jimmy McGuire

I have been in the world of motivational speakers for over 40 years, and observe a cardinal truth about them: only good listeners will develop into effective speakers who can motivate their audiences. Why is this true?

1. Because your audience is ultimately interested in their own lives and opinions, not yours.

Someone in a group tells about a recent surgery she had and how close she came to dying, and immediately someone else will push out that story with what happened to them that is surely worse than the story just told. Why is that? Because we are self-interested. If the sound of your own opinion is the sweetest of all sounds to you, you will soon have virtually nothing important to say to others. Effective speakers are effective listeners. Listening to others talk puts you in touch with the concerns of their hearts, their fears, their joys, their troubles, issues important to them. No one is interested in what you think about yourself except your Mama.

2. Because only by listening can you discern what matters to them.

Effective speeches touch what matters. A vital element of delivering speeches or presentations that move the audience is presenting information that targets the needs of your hearers. You only learn their needs by listening to them, and each speech or presentation is only effective to the degree that it meets a need in the listener.

At SCORRE™ each small group of eight students will listen, really listen to 24 speeches given across three sessions. They will use the SCORRE™ method to analyze their own and others’ speeches. They must answer two vital questions about each speech they hear: 1. Am I being persuaded to consider something or to take specific action, and what are the reasons? 2. Am I being enabled or instructed how to take action, and what steps are given to make that possible?

By listening intensely to each other’s speeches, they sharpen their abilities to speak with clarity and focus to important issues.

The mechanics of effective speaking are essential in preparation and delivery, but moving the audience beyond applause to action only happens when you listen to them first. The proper use of SCORRE™ offers much more than how to construct a focused message. It demands that you listen before you speak.

Do you want to be an effective speaker? Become a great listener, and be sure your speech isn’t all about you, and that it targets the needs of your audience.

What are some of the ways you ensure your speaking meets the needs of your audience? 

You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Jimmy McGuire has been married to Lucy for 45 years, has three sons, and has been a Presbyterian pastor for 43 years. He considers himself blessed beyond measure.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read Our Comments Policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “Effective Listeners are Effective Speakers

  1. As a servant of the public for 45 yrs. it was brought to my attention early that many talk about themselves and didn’t want to hear anything about you if good or bad! ( If it was a certain kind of bad , yes). I listened, and also learned I didn’t hear what I just heard!
    Dr. McGuire I’ve been listening to for about as many years. When I speak about him it’s sharing about where and how far we’ve come to know our Lord Jesus Christ! He has helped me listen and discern. What a gift he has as an effective speaker. My heart was breaking one day a long time ago and the wisdom from him listening to me has cleared many paths! What he said was about The Fathers business! COOL