Listen Up! The Number One Skill that will Set You Apart

September 23, 2019

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Listen up! Illustration

illustrations by Claud Li

Over and over, we’ve heard our clients say they wish they could do what our graphic recorders do, only “they just can’t draw.” Don’t let the fact that you’re not an artist stop you from thinking like our facilitators.

It’s true that visualizing ideas in real time requires some dexterity with a marker, and most of our recorders have a background training in the visual arts. But having said that, the real skill on display with a talented graphic recorder is active listening. When scribing, our facilitators are listening, synthesizing, and organizing information in real time. They are identifying the big ideas and insights, no matter where they come from, and assigning appropriate visual weight to each, so that nothing important is overlooked.

Good listening begets good listening. If you want your story to be received, you first need to listen to your audience.

What is Active Listening?

Active Listening Ear Illustration

So how can you listen better? Studies show that 70-80% of the average person’s day is spent listening. It’s also true that listening consistently outranks written communication skills, technical competence, and academic performance according to professional interviewers. Here are a few tips from ImageThink’s own professional listeners:

First, think like our graphic recorders! No – we don’t mean try to draw what you’re hearing. But imagine that you’ll have to re-tell this information later. Listening as though you’ll have to present the same data later on will encourage you to pay closer attention now.

Second, ask questions rather than trying to infer or guess what someone means. We try to get as much information about the topic we’ll be covering in advance, but we encounter terminology that we aren’t familiar with all the time, and guessing or assuming the meaning of something isn’t ideal. If you’re confronted something you don’t understand, ask the speaker what they mean. It’ll save you stress, and them frustration, later on.

Finally, when you’re listening, JUST listen. One sided conversations aren’t always fun, and we’re often encouraged to speak our mind, or challenge ideas we don’t agree with. However, sometimes the act of listening itself is the most important thing to your audience. Nobody feels very heard when they feel very interrupted. There will be plenty of time to dig deeper and analyze conversations later on, but it’s often best to listen with your eyes and ears open, and your mouth closed.

Now, when you pair these practices with uncommon visual stimuli, words and presentations are more memorable. That’s what makes what we do at ImageThink so special.

Social Listening: The Ultimate Direct Engagement

Social Listening illustration

What if you want to listen to a lot of people, all at once? And more than that, make sure to capture and evaluate trends in what they’re saying? ImageThink Social Listening activations are the best example of how active, engaged listening, when combined with easy-to-read visual icons, will take your meeting or event to the next level.

Social listening murals are installations that serve to capture the ideas and insights of a wide range of thinkers around a central question. For instance, ImageThink recently partnered with Cisco to capture its interns’ thoughts on what they loved about being an intern at Cisco.

Beyond creating beautiful, feel-good pieces of art, Cisco set a great example of how to listen to and care for its employees at every level. Participants felt valued and heard, so they were eager to share what they liked about their jobs at Cisco. In turn, Cisco was able to get a clear baseline of what they’re doing right and identify opportunities to further engage with and improve the experience of their interns.

Do You Hear That? Opportunity is knocking…

Listening Opportunity Illustration

So? Are you ready to create a unique and memorable activation that your audience will remember long after your event ends? To initiate a direct conversation that will result in an immediately actionable, easily readable visual summary?

Click here to contact us, or give us a call at the number above to talk about how ImageThink can help you create the perfect Social Listening installation to meet your needs.