By Stephanie Brewer

Have you ever been talking with someone and realized they aren’t really listening to you? One of the basic needs each of us has is to be heard and understood. Although it’s not always easy, there are some things you can do to get better at talking with others. Below are five tips to improve the odds that when you talk—people will listen.

  1. Listen

Believe it or not, getting people to listen to you begins when YOU become a good listener. There are a couple reasons for this. First, when you increase your listening skills, you’ll learn more about everything. Second, you’ll learn about the people and things that are important to your audience.

When it’s your turn to talk, begin with a topic that is interesting to your listener. When you need to talk about a particular topic, think of a way to talk about it that will connect with something that’s important to the other person.

  1. Know Your Audience

Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Take the time to think about the person, or people, you’re speaking with. Learn what’s important to them in that moment and also in general. Are they friends who have the same interests that you have? Are they a group of people with a current problem or need? When you care about what other people are thinking and feeling, you’ll be able to adjust what you have to say so that your message is more meaningful to them.

  1. Make Your Words Count

Say things that matter. One way to think about this principle is to reverse this tip: ‘Count your Words.’ If you can say what you need to say with fewer words, that’s better. Think about what you want to say before you say it out loud. For a formal presentation, write an outline or a whole script to plan your message and rehearse it until it feels natural and relaxed.

  1. Know what you’re talking about

Take time to learn about things you want to talk about. When you know information, be gracious and polite about sharing it. When you don’t know something, it’s best to say, “I don’t know, but I can find out.” Avoid making something up when you don’t know the answer.

  1. Follow through on what you say

This one’s simple. When you say you’re going to do something, be sure to do it. Doing what you say you’re going to do, will help you build a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy.