Listening is Visual

Recently I had the privilege of spending several hours with some new members of the community I work with.  The scenario was a bit backwards, as


Listening (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

their particular community is a couple of decades old and I’ve only really known them for several months, but we are “new to each other”, so to speak.  It was a LOT of fun and extremely educational.

The first part of the meeting consisted of time set aside for me to make a presentation that I had worked on for a couple of weeks and spent some time rehearsing. I went over it again on the plane to the meeting and once more for good measure a half hour before the meeting began.  Upon entering the meeting room, I noticed no projector….um…..OK. The lead at the meeting told me that, since I was the only person with an actual presentation, they had decided not to have a projector.
While this gave me a moment’s pause, I realized that this was really golden. I was given a chance to speak and lead a discussion without anyone having slides to stare at or handouts to fiddle with! The attendees could listen to me, I could respond to all their cues, and we could have a much more interactive sessions than we might have otherwise.  This turned out to be the case…AND I offered anyone the presentation by mail afterwards, if they were interested.  They all opted for it.
This experience fortified my belief in the power of the face-to-face discussion.  Without the distraction of pictures, I could convey ideas, watch for the lights of recognition or the brows of question and respond appropriately.  I truly enjoyed that part of the meeting (the rest was great, too, but that’s another story).
The point I found to this experience is that communication is still richest when we can use all the channels that live, face-to-face opportunities give us….that listening is visual. The openness of the information, given an atmosphere of mutual transparency, with the ability to cull all of the facial and verbal cues (or lack thereof), the chance to easily circle around questions and see the change in demeanor when and idea connects and someone speaks up with a question, comment, or additional idea…..all of these allow for the richest environment for communication.  They even allow for continuing and ongoing discussion remotely to be more rich, because of that real life foundation.
I have read of great leaders of the past reaching out to others with their vision of what can be in such a way that these others can also see what that vision could be for them.  While this experience wasn’t as earth-moving as that, it felt good and right.  I hope to take part in this kind of interaction more often. This has helped me to see and understand my goals more clearly, as well, which can only help me reach for them with greater passion.
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