Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

Questions to date for: The Entrepreneur Communities Crazy Focus on Investment Versus Customers

Posted on: January 16th, 2017 | by tmpadmin

Here’s a quick highlight of some participant questions that have been posed for this week’s webinar – The Entrepreneur Communities Crazy Focus on Investment Versus Customers. For more details or to register click here.

The question we posed:

  • What questions or challenges do you have related to focusing your students & entrepreneurs on customer discovery and customer development?

Some of the questions our participants have asked:

  • What techniques work best in getting students to focus on customer discovery and customer development? How have you redone your competitions to reflect the focus on customer discovery and customer development?
  • Last year, I prepared a feasibility study for a group interested in having an entrepreneurial event/pitch.  My research matched exactly what you are saying so the event was postponed. I am interested in hearing this webinar. In Dallas, our accelerators that are not university backed are struggling. Are university backed incubators/accelerators the only ones that will survive because the university rather than the market has more tolerance for risk?
  • How do we get our ventures to do appropriate research such as contacting at least 50 contacts who you share your innovation with and get their feedback?
  • How do we get beyond the “glamorization” of raising a round of funding and showing them that there are other ways to access capital?
  • Great topic as you’ve laid it out people get fixated on the wrong metrics and look for short term cash flow vs long term marketplace traction
  • Too much focus on the product and how it should be delivered vs. how it can be delivered in a way that addresses a clearly articulated and defined problem.
  • Our organization is funded by sponsorships and metrics based on ventures getting investments. How do we re-focus and keep everyone engaged?
  • Getting students to think realistically?
  • Our founders struggle with asking customers questions in such a way that they avoid receiving false positives?
  • Convincing students (and other organizers) of the value of customer discovery is a challenge?
  • How do I maximize customer advice?

Register and Ask You Question CLICK HERE



Test My Pitch – Private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. Engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Ask us how we can help you successfully democratize pitch event results in your community. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.


Be Interesting

Posted on: January 5th, 2017 | by Bill Kenney

LLV Demo Day 130626If you want somebody to be interested in you then you need to be interesting. Ecosystems and event organizers all around the world are hosting events to attract investors for local ventures. While this is an admirable endeavor it is creating significant marketplace inefficiencies.

What are investors interested in? To generalize, investors are interested in minimizing risk and maximizing return. Yet the events that they are PULLED to have only a small minority of ventures that are investable. This isn’t to say that these are bad ventures. Many are fine potential businesses but most will not grow fast enough or to a significant enough size to give an investor a reasonable return on their capital.

What then makes a venture interesting? What helps de-risk an investment? What will make investors PUSH to be included in your events and community? The answer is simple…ventures with CUSTOMERS!

This is just a quick sample of one of the topics that we’ll be talking about in the January 19 webinar The Entrepreneur Communities Crazy Focus on Investment vs. Customers. Learn more and join us here.


Posted on: December 14th, 2016 | by Bill Kenney

CTCollegiateBizPlanCompetition14SpringPutting people in situations where they can succeed is the essence of good leadership. When our teams and team members fail there can be many adverse effects. The repercussions can go far beyond those directly involved. Check out this list to see some of the other stakeholders and how they are affected.

For the Under-performing TEAMS and TEAM MEMBERS

  • Their performance spirals down as they see no path to success
  • They disengage and turnover
  • They become anti-sponsors of your organization and you


  • Poor individual performance leads to poor service
  • Continued poor service leads to lost customers
  • Lost customers leads to negative promotion


  • They observe and learn less productive methods and processes
  • They carry more load when their peers and teammates under-perform
  • They get frustrated, disengage and turnover


  • It costs you time, reputation and results as team members don’t realize their potential
  • Your sales and revenue declines, customers and reputation are lost
  • Team members will turnover creating production instability and your career path becomes vulnerable


Join us for the “Stop Defining Insanity: Set Them Up for Success” webinar on Monday, December 19 at Noon ET. More information and register.


Test My Pitch – Private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. Engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Ask us how we can help you successfully democratize pitch event results in your community. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.

Practice, It’s Not Just for Olympians

Posted on: August 15th, 2016 | by tmpadmin

Lavern practice

With the Olympics in “full on” mode at the moment, a post about practice seems like a perfect topic. Bobby Knight, the one-time Olympic basketball coach from Indiana University said “The key is not the “will to win” . . . everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

Imagine if your professionals, students or entrepreneurs could execute their communication like a gold medal winning Olympic athlete competes in their event. How much better would your team perform? Imagine if they could articulate a podium worthy value proposition, class presentation or venture pitch. Imagine if they could connect with the audience and compel them to action. Would they sell more? Would they get better grades or a better career path? Would they raise more money?

Indeed champion athletes and award-winning performance artists embrace volumes of focused practice to assure peak performance. While the numbers vary considerably by sport and art form, athletes and performing artists practice somewhere between 2-50 times more than they play in actual games or perform shows. They train physically and mentally, they do dress rehearsals and walkthroughs and they focus on specific skills some days and the entire game or performance others.

Practice is safe and collegial. Practice might also be competitive to replicate a game environment or opening night performance. The championship is not won in practice, but it can be lost by how we practice. Practice helps individuals evolve from conscious competence to unconscious competence. The best practices see performers stretching beyond their current skill set to manifest higher levels of ability.

Watch this brief video where Michael Jordan shares his thoughts on the importance of practice.

Athletes and artists who don’t practice, don’t play. Practices are mandatory and integrated into the performance process. Practice is not only a base requirement, it is essential to maintaining and evolving skills. The emphasis on practice doesn’t stop when athletes and performers move from junior levels to the Olympics or professional ranks. In fact, practices get longer, harder and more sophisticated as performers mature towards their peak. Specialized coaches, trainers and consultants are hired to maximize performance at the top levels.

So here are a couple of challenge questions, if your team isn’t prepared and communicating at a gold medal level:

  • What’s your team’s practice to performance ratio? Remember top athletes and artists practice 2 to 50 times more than they play and perform.
  • Do you have a method to diagnose each individual’s skill and performance gaps? Left to our own devices, most of us will practice our strengths and ignore our weaknesses. Identifying and overcoming deficiencies is where major performance leaps occur.
  • Are you providing good benchmarks and references? While each individual understanding their performance and growth opportunities is important, this information is abstract. Seeing their performance in comparison to peers and past performers creates even better reference points. Sometimes it is hard to improve until you know what better looks like.

As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Greatness then is not an act, but a habit”.

Test My Pitch – Private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. Engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Ask us how we can help you improve your team’s success through practice. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.

It’s Time to Rip Off the Band-Aid and Share Results: Here are 6 Reasons Why!

Posted on: July 8th, 2016 | by Bill Kenney

We talk to organizations every day who are concerned about sharing the results from their pitch events and demo days. Their concerns range from uncertainty of result validity and judging to concerns about inadvertently discouraging the students, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in their charge.

From serving, partnering and associating with thousands of organizers over the last few years, we’ve learned that democratizing results is one of the biggest keys to building community, accelerating your current cohort and improving the starting point and trajectory of future cohorts.

Here are our 6 reasons why it’s imperative that you democratize your pitch event and demo day results starting today!

  1. Participants need to learn how to internalize and action feedback – Customers, investors, strategic partners and employees will not shelter your teams from critical feedback. The best time for your teams to learn how to listen, ask questions and appropriately respond to feedback is when they’re with you. This is a lot like how artists gain from critiquing. They learn how to listen and evolve in safe and collegial environments. It is much better to be “wrong” when a sale or investment is not on the line. Beware of coddling.
  2. Referential learning – While seeing your individual scores and feedback may be helpful, it is abstract. Seeing your scores and feedback in relation to your peer group adds significant context and allows high speed leapfrogging. This context allows participants to model better performers, benchmark relative change and resource those who are moving fastest.
  3. Start ahead – Yes, it’s really amazing that each wave of new participants is asked to start at the absolute beginning. They gain nothing from the previous generations of participants. Democratizing results allows the community, including all future participants, to learn from and stand on the shoulders of previous participants. This also helps take the mystery out of the program, which better engages future participants and allows them to onboard more prepared for success. Competitive runners use democratized results from previous versions of events they will compete in to know how to train, identify training partners and fully commit to events.
  4. Program transparency – Nothing creates judging or process suspicion quicker than cloaking results. Transparency also assures that any weaknesses in the judging processes are found out and corrected quickly. Community trust and integrity are founded on transparency.
  5. All feedback is perfect – While there are some improvements that can be made in most judging processes to improve the utility and utilization feedback, the biggest opportunity is for organizers and participants is to learn that all feedback is perfect. Feedback is somebody’s opinion based on their frame of reference. Anyone sharing their opinion is taking a risk. They do so with an earnest interest in providing valuable insight. Participants need orientation and training before getting feedback. Honoring and respecting all feedback assures a steady pipeline of valuable input.
  6. Do it today, delay is expensive – Waiting only prolongs the work you’ll have to do to shift your culture. With every passing day that results are not democratized, your community and current participants are losing value and potential energy. It’s up to you to break these antiquated Darwinian traditions and propel your community to new heights.

According to performance expert, Lisa Marshall ( “Feedback from others is the fastest way to improve. It’s how we learn and excel. Feedback motivates us and helps us to make course corrections. It’s critically important to understand that the MAIN idea behind feedback is to MOTIVATE behavior.”

Amplify learning, growth and engagement by democratizing your results today.

Score My Pitch is a pitch event judging and feedback system. Harness the wisdom and potential energy in your community. Produce reliable results. Share contextual and actionable feedback. Watch the video.

Ask us how we can help you successfully democratize pitch event results in your community. Email or call Bill Kenney today at or +1 (860) 573-4821.

Questions to date for – Judging Nightmares…Make your judging reliable and informative!

Posted on: March 17th, 2016 | by Bill Kenney

Here’s a quick highlight of participant questions that have already been posed so far for the March 24, 2016 webinar – Judging Nightmares…Make your judging reliable and informative!. For more details or to register click here.

The question we posed:
What questions or challenges do you have related to managing/administering effective judging?

  • How to maintain consistency in judging across many different projects and with different judges?
  • How do you maintain simplicity in criteria?
  • Is there a way to make it statistically accurate?
  • How do you developing an effective rating system and score sheet – especially given conflicting priorities among my judges?
  • It is our first time in implementing the program we will use judging for so just general questions about managing and administering effective judging would be great!
  • How do we get judges to stay within the allotted time frame?
  • Getting judges on the same page and focused on our criteria rather their their own.
  • How do you ensure that judges stick to your criteria and not their internal biases?
  • Are there any software or other tools that can be used to make the judging process easier for the judges and add transparency to the process for both the judges and the participants?
  • I am interested in learning about your best practices
  • Interested in modern perspectives and insights to enhance my judging participation
  • Not enough time or thought put into the criterion by the judges as a group. Typically facilitator gives a sheet to fill out and then judges begin to argue about what each one meant in relation to their pre-conceived notions.
  • How do you deal with judges who may not understand a particular industry but will write off an idea because they don’t understand rather than asking more questions?
  • How do you make sure judges are prepared and have read background information?
  • We have a program where we work with early stage technologists, but our Judges are used to seeing later-staged startups seeking funding, so their expectations about what makes a good team do not always line up with what our program is designed to do.

Questions to Date – Criteria Conundrum: Developing Your Ultimate Rubric

Posted on: January 13th, 2016 | by Bill Kenney

Here’s a quick highlight of participant questions that have already been posed so far for the January 22, 2016 webinar – Criteria Conundrum: Developing Your Ultimate Rubric. For more details or to register click here.

The question we posed
What questions or challenges do you have related to developing the effective criteria?

The responses to-date

  • How do we get untrained judges to use rubrics reliably and quickly?
  • How to override the judges’ own biases?
  • How to have an efficient system that taps into key competencies of students and is easily understood by a diverse judging team.
  • When judges are exposed to multiple pitches back to back, the baseline for how the pitches are ranked starts to shift. If the first team had an strong performance they might be scoring the one right after that a bit more harshly compared to the rest. The same problem if the opposite happens, a weak team making an average performance after have inflated numbers. What happens is judging scores, tallied up end up looking a bit skewed and judges would prefer to discuss the results vs. relying purely on the numerical scores?

  • Are there differences between criteria to evaluate pitch competitions and for adult in class presentations?
  • How do you best create consistency in the application of criteria?
  • How do you get all judges to use the same scale when completing the rubric?
  • How do you adjust the criteria based upon the audience?
  • What are the top 3 steps to creating valuable criteria?
  • What makes criteria effective?
  • As our programs have undergone various evolutions, first starting with rigorous and multiple (maybe onerous) criteria, we have had to “water down” our criteria in an attempt to get more people to take part in a program. This is frustrating and in the end cheapens program value. How do we create meaningful criteria that is both objective and simple?
  • How to communicate criteria so that judges interpret it the way we meant them to?
  • How to picking criteria that are correct?
  • How to adapt criteria to compensate for the natural irrational human factor?
  • What are the most important elements to include in innovator/innovation assessment criteria?
  • We are coordinating two grant processes this year. What are the best practices for judging and comparing proposals?

Responses outside the topic area

  • What is the most powerful opening / statement pertaining to a sales pitch? By whom? Is it used for every sale?

For more webinar details or to register click here.

View our past webinars.

Listening Skill Development Exercises to Improve Communication Skills – Part II

Posted on: December 17th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

10 Exercises To Improve Listening Skills And Become An Active Listener

Why do we need exercises to improve listening skills? Because we do, that’s why. Because practice makes perfect.

How to improve listening skills? Just pay attention and you will learn that. Listening skills are crucial if you want to have a good relationship with others. Some people have listening skills while most don’t have them (or at least they don’t think they have any listening skills).

Actually, we all have listening skills, some more than others, but we all have at least some skills, we just don’t use them often and they tend to get rusty over time. This is why we need some listening skills exercises. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will realize the importance of listening.

So the question now is how to improve listening skills? Now, improving listening skills is not an easy task, but it can be done.

Here are 10 of the most useful exercises to improve listening skills (you can call them active listening activities):

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 1 The “don’t interrupt” exercise.

Make a habit of not interrupting the person(s) that is/are talking to you. As simple as this may seem, it is very important that you abide this rule. Just this one thing, done right, represents a great exercise to improve your listening skills. The main idea here is to remember that improving your listening skills means to stop talking and paying attention to what others are saying. Remember that you only learn new things if you shut up and listen. When you talk you learn almost nothing new. So, this is another good reason why you should be quiet and listen to others without interrupting. So if you were wondering how to improve listening skills, now you know one way to do it.

Whenever you’re in a discussion, let the speaker finish his statement before trying to reply. If you absolutely need to interrupt the speaker or maybe raise a point, you have to be patient until you get a chance.

How to improve your listening skills?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills. This is why we call them active listening activities, because they are active:

Take a notebook with you and write down all the discussions that you have today. Write down for each discussion: what was the subject of it, who talked more – you or the other person(s), what do you know more now after this discussion, that you didn’t know before. By writing all this down for at least 5-6 discussions, you will know exactly what level of listening skills you have at the moment.

For this exercise to give even better results it is best that someone (your wife/husband,friend,etc) is with you. This way, after you write down all of the above, the other person can read that and tell you how much is true or not and this way you will know were you are and in time you will begin to see the improvements a lot easier. You have to be patient and do this exercise at least 10 times to see some improvements, so go ahead and start now!

How to improve listening skills exercises no. 2 Asking questions means paying attention and it is an essential part of the active listening activities.

A great exercise to improve listening skills is to ask questions throughout a conversation. Asking the right questions at the right time is gold here. If you ask, people will know that you are listening to what they are saying, you will keep a lively conversation, prevent any possible misunderstandings and most importantly, you will develop your listening skills.

Be careful not to overdo it on the questions though! If you pass a certain number of questions, you will become annoying and no one will want to talk to you in the future.
DO IT NOW! (active listening activities remember?) What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Set yourself a goal for today to ask a couple of questions on the first conversation you participate in today. 3 to 6 questions is a reasonable number to start with. After that, set a goal for the next week. Make it a habit of yours to ask questions in every conversation. This way you will learn new things and improve your listening skills as well.

When you ask questions, try not to ask more than one question at a time so that the other person has time to respond to it. It is possible, that the speaker may become silent for some time(this happens often in a conversation). When this happens, do not try to rush and fill up the silence. Instead, you should give the speaker a chance to compose his/her thoughts.

Active listening skills exercises for improving listening skills no. 3 “I see”

One of the difference between hearing and listening is that when you are listening you can try to give some acknowledgments, from time to time, to the person that’s talking so they know that you are really listening. Words like “I see”, “Aha…”, “Yes”, “I know”, “I understand”, “I know the feeling”, and you can name even more are of great help.
You can even start to summarize with your own words what you understood. Summarizing has its benefits like preventing misunderstandings and keeping the liveliness of the conversation. It prevents misunderstandings in the sense that if you didn’t understand something correctly, then the speaker can set you straight after you summarize what was it that you understood.

Summarizing also keeps you implicated in the discussion by preventing your attention from wondering far away.

How to improve your listening skills?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Make it one of your habits to use acknowledgments and to summarize conversations. Try this in any discussion and you and the others around you will see improvements in your listening skills.

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 4 Are you willing to become a good listener?

You have to know that there are some difference between hearing and listening. If you want to have good listening skills you first have to willing to take the steps involved, to be willing to make the effort. Nothing is free, and gaining listening skills doesn’t make any difference. If you are willing that’s great, but if you’re not, maybe the next benefits of having good listening skills will change your mind.

4 great benefits of being a good listener (why you should be improving listening skills):

  1. If you learn how to listen to others, the others will listen to what you have to say as well, they will respect you because you show respect to them by listening. You’re words will have a greater influence on other people. This is a great thing! Just imagine having a greater influence on your children, friends, family, work colleagues. Wouldn’t this be wonderful?
  2. By being a good listener, you can learn more about the people you talk to, you can make new friends and have a better life, both personal and professional. What if you could be good friends with almost everyone you talk to? How would you feel if your boss was your friend? How about your neighbors, colleagues or even customers? It can all be possible if you only listen to others more.
  3. By becoming a good listener you could even improve existent relationships. When people will see that you’ve become more attentive to what they say they will treat you better and you will then realize the importance of listening. Just think: wouldn’t you treat someone better if they were listening to you and support you?
  4. Having good listening skills will help you improve conversation skills.

This way you will be able to avoid a lot of misunderstandings or confusions. You could also stop possible conflicts even before they start. As you see there are some important benefits of being a good listener, and I’m sure you can dig out more if you try. You should always remember that by doing active listening activities you will become better and better at this. So, what are you waiting for? You should be out there, improving listening skills right now?

How to improve your listening skills?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Start changing the way that you listen to people. Pay more attention to them and try to understand what they are really trying to say. The more you care about them the more they will care for you. There is an old saying that goes like this: “You get hungry while eating.” and this goes for willingness too.

You will become more willing to improve your listening skills by having more and more conversations. Just try paying attention and carrying about others and you will feel a huge difference in time.

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 5 Keep your eyes on the “ball”

The difference between hearing and listening is that one is active while the other one isn’t. So pay attention only to what the speaker has to say. If you focus only on the speaker and what he/her is talking about and not trying to make up your own replies, you will gain more from the conversation. Also, by doing so, you won’t miss a lot of things the speaker might say.
How to improve listening skills today?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

This is one of the very interesting listening skills exercises. Do the following with the first person that you talk to after reading this: focus completely on that person, don’t allow your thoughts to run away, keep your eyes and ears on what the person is saying. Ask him/her questions about what they’ve said. You will be amazed at how happy you will make that person after you’ve had your little talk. If the conversation is a short one, try to find someone else and have a longer conversation so that this exercise is effective.

Active listening skills exercises no. 6 Respect me and I will respect you as well.

It is important that you show and have respect for the speaker. If you respect the other person you will pay more attention to him/her. On the other hand, if you don’t respect the person that much, you won’t be very attentive.

If you make this a habit, I mean respecting people, you will see that those people (most of them) will give you a higher level of respect as well. You first have to give so that you can receive.
How to improve listening skills today?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Make a conscious effort to develop a genuine interest for others and what they have to say. We all are special in our own way and we can all learn from each other. Try to consider every people that you talk to, a good friend of yours. How would you treat a friend? That’s right, you would pay attention to that friend because you like him/her, you enjoy spending time together, etc.

Try to do this with anyone. It might be a little hard at first, and for some people you may not be able to feel the same as you would to a friend, but, please, give your best at it. And try and try again, and again, and again… Improving your listening skills is not easy but it’s more than worth it.

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 7 Repeat it and write it down.

In the middle of a conversation, the speaker might say something very interesting for you. You want to remember that but you also want to pay attention to what the speaker is currently saying, so what do you do? You repeat that information. Immediately. Out loud. Read the following to see an example.

How to improve listening skills today? A way to start improving listening skills is to: DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

You can use this as a helper: “Did I understand this right? Did you just say that …..” This way you will re-repeat the information and you will also make the other person repeat it again (in some cases, the speaker will only say yes and move on – this is why you can deliberately repeat the information with a little error in it. This way you can be sure that the other person will repeat it as well. It’s almost 100% guaranteed!).

Also, if you want to be even more sure that you will remember the information, as soon as you get the chance, write it down on a piece of paper.

Active listening skills exercises no. 8 Keep eye contact

Active listening skills exercises don’t just mean that all you have to is to be a good listener. It also means that you need to keep your eyes on the person which is talking. Keep eye contact at all times. It’s very important that you do this because this way the conversations will be more pleasant and you and the speaker will learn a lot from each other.
How to improve listening skills today?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

The next time you talk to others, face the speaker and watch them in the eye. What you say will make a greater impact on people if you keep eye contact. Also do this when the speaker is talking. This way, he/her will feel appreciated and respected.

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 9 Feedback Time

It is very important (and I recommend this) to give feedback to people, especially if they ask for it. Sometimes people won’t ask for this, but if you feel that you’ve had a pleasant conversation with someone and you have something to say, then give feedback to that person.

How to improve your listening skills?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

If you have something good to say, something that you liked about the other person or the way he/she talked, always say it. Don’t keep that all for yourself. Anyone likes to be complimented and if you liked something it’s much better to say it loud.

What do I do if I have some negative feedback? If you didn’t like something, you have two options: you can either keep it to yourself (some things are better left unsaid), or if you just have to say it, do it in a smoother way. Don’t just throw it out as if you didn’t care about the person’s feelings. Be gentle, say something good about the person and then point out what you wanted to say. Here’s an example:

Let’s say that you’ve just had a conversation with a good friend about a tv commercial. You both liked one commercial, but you don’t agree with something
that your friend said. How do you tell him this without making him angry? Say something like: “Hey, John I really liked having this talk with you. I always enjoy talking about tv commercials with you because you’re a funny guy. I agree about what you said earlier …., and I also feel that ….(here will be the “negative” feedback – as smoother as you can).

Active listening skills exercises no. 10 Be yourself

It is very important that you feel good in a conversation. You must be relaxed and comfortable. This way, the chances are that you will be more attentive to the speaker. If you feel some sort of discomfort, you won’t be able to pay attention to the discussion.

How to improve listening skills today? A way to start improving listening skills is to: DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Start having conversations with people that you feel comfortable talking to. Use all the knowledge you’ve gathered from this article. By first talking to people that you feel good with, you will make this a little test for future times when you will talk to other people. Once you start paying attention to people you will realize the importance of listening to others.

If you use all of these active listening activities/listening skills exercises you will improve your listening skills and you will become an active listener. People will enjoy talking to you and you will have a greater influence on others. Your whole life will improve, but it’s not enough that you’ve read “Listening skills exercises – 10 Exercises to Improve Listening Skills and Become an Active Listener”, you have to read it again, write down what you think is important for you and start using it until it becomes a habit for you.

Listening Skill Development Exercises to Improve Communication Skills – Part I

Posted on: December 16th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

These listening skill development exercises are compiled from:

6 Listening Skills Exercises To Promote Stronger Communication
content courtesy of the Udemy Blog. Article written by C. Paris

The act of listening is not the same as hearing. When someone is communicating with you, they want to feel like they’re talking to you, rather than at you, and that can only be done with a set of good listening skills and an understanding of the principles of effective communication in general.

Learn how to become an empathetic, attentive, and active listener with the listening skills exercises listed below. You can also review this guide on the numerous components of the listening process for reference.

A Game of Telephone

Telephone might be considered a child’s game, but it’s actually a very useful exercise in communication that those working to improve their own or their team’s listening skills can benefit from greatly. The rules are simple, but altered slightly to shed additional light on the importance of active listening, and how information can become distorted as a result of laziness, inattentiveness, and passivity… all enemies of effective communication.

To start the game, participants should stand in a line, or a circle. One person begins the game by whispering a sentence to the person after them. This sentence should be prepared beforehand, by someone moderating the game, but it should only be known to the person starting the game. The person who received the messages should then whisper it to the person after them, and so on.

By the time it gets to the final person in the group, they should say the message aloud. The first person will read the sentence they were given, and participants can note how much the two have changed. It’s very unlikely, especially in large groups, that the message has not been altered at least a little bit.

The additional rule teams can add to make this exercise more lucid is for each participant to keep a small note card. After they hear the message – not during, but after – they should write down what they heard, and read it to the person next to them. This way, any slight change in the message is down on paper, and the group moderator can post these note cards up in front of the room. Then, the team can study how subtle changes in word use, slight additions or eliminations, can significantly alter the meaning of any message.

Selective Listening

Selective listening is the act of hearing and interpreting only parts of a message that seem relevant to you, while ignoring or devaluing the rest. Often, selective listeners will form arguments before they’ve heard the full story, making them not only poor listeners, but poor speakers too!

To confront this in a group environment, one moderator should compose a list of objects or ideas, all similar in theme. For example: turkey, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, cheese, etc. These are all sandwich components, and most people will recognize this. The list should be relatively long, maybe 15 to 20 words, and have some repeated words. For example: turkey, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, cheese, ham, lettuce, pickles, onion, olives, lettuce…

The moderator should read this list to the group, and then allot them 30 seconds to write down as many words as they can remember. Most people will remember the word that was repeated the most, and a notable amount will most likely write down words that were obvious, but not actually stated in the list. For example: bread, sandwich, or food.

Group Storytelling

A good listener should be able to view a discussion as a whole, and not just its most immediate parts. The group storytelling activity is a fun, potentially silly, but incredibly valuable exercise in active listening and comprehension.

This activity should have one group moderator, who will deliver the story’s first line. It should be something simple, and open for many possible continuations, such as, “So the other day, I went to the store.”

Each participant in the group is responsible for making up their own contribution to the story, a single sentence that logically continues from the last. Meanwhile, the group moderator should be keeping track of the story on a computer or in a notepad, checking each addition for possible continuity errors.

Most of the time, there will be a few additions that contradict previous parts of the story. The moderator should hold out on identifying these until the full story has been written, and can be read aloud to the group. Then, the group can discuss how these mistakes were made, and what sorts of listening skills they should practice to ensure important information is never forgotten.

Additional Listening Skills Exercises

Here are more listening skills exercises that should help you and your team develop the listening skills they need for effective communication. Don’t forget to follow up each exercise with a discussion! Check out this communications guide for some talking points.

  • Read a short story, and have participants paraphrase. This activity is a study in how team members choose to interpret and prioritize certain information over others.
  • Pair up participants, and have one person discuss a hobby or passion of theirs, while the other person is instructed to ignore them. Discuss the frustration that can come with not feeling heard or acknowledged, and review good body language and verbal remarks a good listener should practice.
  • In pairs, one participant discusses a type of location they’d like to visit, giving only subtle hints as to the specific place. The listener will have to pick up on these subtleties and at the end, recommend somewhere suitable for the speaker based on their explanation. The original speaker will confirm or deny the usefulness of the suggestion, and the two will then discuss ways people can stay alert, as a listener, and pick up on the appropriate cues to help them play a more vital role in discussions.

Top 5 Tips for Public Speaking

Posted on: July 12th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Article courtesy of Nic Zito @niczito.

Top 5 tips for effective public speaking. After one of my incubator members was invited to give his first presentation, he asked my advice for first time speakers. These are the first 5 thoughts that came to mind from my past speaking engagements:

  1. Tangibly Outline- Within the initial intro, you should organize and disclose to the crowd the ‘takeaways’ they are expected to retain or learn when they walkaway. In this way, you immediately seem prepared and organized, and they know upfront the value they will learn by listening to you.

  2. Don’t talk @ them- Put yourself in their shoes. When I am in the audience, I want to feel like the speaker is making a connection to even the largest crowds. This is accomplished by speaking in a conversational tone as if you were in a 1-on-1 talk to someone in the front row. The reverse of this is lecturing (Think a college setting), and we all know how many people tune out for those.

  3. Make it Personal- Unless you’re Mark Cuban, introduce yourself right away. Who are you? What do you care about? As an audience member, I want to feel like I know the person speaking, their background, and their experience. This all contributes to the takeaways you as the speaker will be presenting, in other words, it builds credibility but also puts an emotional human element to the talk.

  4. Care about the topic- This seems simple but within the initial 2 minutes of a public presentation, you can tell if someone is truly invested in their topic. Pay attention to body language and tone of voice. Again, people don’t want to feel like they’re being lectured by a robot. Being passionate increases your crowd connection which will in turn make you harder to tune out from.

  5. Involve the Audience- Q/A is a great way to achieve this. If it’s a smaller crowd you can call on individuals to ask what they’re working on and encourage group discussion. Notice and pay attention to their body language (ex. If someone is nodding) and have moments of spontaneous involvement. 2 practical reasons for this strategy as well are 1) Q/A breaks up the stretch of only you speaking, which can get stale and boring and 2) No matter how tangible your talk is, there are bound to be personal questions from the audience.

Link to the original article.