LISTENING EFFECTIVELY is hearing and understanding what a speaker is saying and how it applies to you and then remembering it for future use and evaluation. There are ways to improve your listening skills. The following is a list of some basic techniques for effective listening.

1. Recognize how ideas are organized. Lectures usually begin with some type of introduction, followed by a thesis statement which is supported by additional information. Most professors bring closure to their lecture by summarizing what they have covered. Learn to identify the lecture style that is used by your professor.

2. Become involved in what is being said. Be an avid listener. Constantly analyze what is being said.

3. Cut through (or screen out) distractions.

4. Organize statements into main points and supporting reasons. Using an outline form may be helpful.

5. Discriminate between relevancies and irrelevancies. Remember that not all information is important.

6. Maintain an active body state. Keeping alert and having eye-contact with the speaker will help you listen more effectively.

In order to improve your listening skills you will need to practice using the suggested techniques until they become automatic. The following chart summarizes ten habits which differentiate effective and non-effective listening. Choose one or two habits to practice today!

Eight habits which differentiate non-effective and effective listening




subject is dry - doesn't apply to me

pays attention - asks what's in it for me?

Find areas of interest

judges the delivery - gets hung up on errors

judges the content - skips over the errors

Judge the content, not the delivery

tends to enter into arguments quickly and make judgments before comprehension

doesn't judge until their comprehension is complete

Hold your fire - don't judge too soon

listens for facts

listens for central ideas

Listen for ideas and recognize patterns of organization.

uses one type of note-taking and takes excessive notes

has several note-taking systems and writes down only the important information

Use different kinds of organization - be flexible more notes - less value

passive - shows no energy output - acts bored

active - stays involved with the speaker

Work at active listening

distracts easily

fights distractions - knows how to concentrate

Resist distractions

does not exercise their mind - seeks easy, recreational reading material

exercises their mind with more difficult material and is familiar with harder subjects






Source: Utah State University, Academic Resource Center