The ability to listen, frame, and mirror back key topics of a conversation, are some of the most powerful core skills a business problem solver can posses. In this post, I’ll provide you with the template that I use in my meetings, and three steps to achieving a 300% increase in your listening skills.
Step1. Actually Listening (+100%)
I wish I could tell you that the physical act of listening is a no-brainer, everyone understands that to really listen effectively you actually need to tune your ears into the conversation. But, you won’t need to go very far into your workday on Monday to agree with me, that this isn’t the reality. Reading and responding to emails, side text conversations, doodling, and web browsing are all fantastic ways to ensure you either a) miss out on key topics or b) piss people off who feel you should actually instead be paying attention to them. I’m sorry, you’re just not that good, no one is. If you often find yourself in this category, then my challenge to you is to not attend or cut back time spent in these meetings.
Step 2. Frame the Conversation by Using my Meeting Template (+100%)
The main idea of the template, is to force yourself to frame out the conversation. Effectively framing means picking out the five to ten most important, super critical elements of any conversation. Often I frame out entire workshops, with fewer than five key points. Everything should be considered on the table, the obvious ones are objectives, desired results, and pain points. But, emotional indicators like body language, facial expressions and tone of voice can often tell more of the story.
I have included my listening template for you to use here.
- Header. Basic information on the discussion, such as: title/topic of meeting, date, and key or new attendees.
- Framing Margin. High level, key, emotionally impactful points of the conversation.
- Notes. Open space to document any other relevant conversation points.
- Actions/Issues. Next steps, future meeting topics, to-do’s. I prefer to separate these out from the general notes section for easy follow up.
Step 3. Mirroring (+100%)
Now what did I just say? Much more important than recapping actions and next steps, which can always be distributed after the meeting, is the process of mirroring back what was understood during the conversation. This is where your listening skills translates into an effective summary and conceptual agreement of next steps. Now that you have these captured in your framing margin, much of the mirroring should be a matter of recapping the points you selected to be in this margin.
Now to demonstrate that I’m always listening to you, send me feedback on how my template and tips may help you. Actual individual results may vary, depending on how well you have been listening.