Monday, October 18, 2010

Have you heard of the International Listening Association?

John Marshall, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, once said that:

“To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well."

The International Listening Association (ILA) was founded in 1979 by Dr. Ralph G. Nichols (1907 - 2005), who was a professor and longtime member of the Rhetoric Department at the University of Minnesota. Every March the ILA proclaims Listening Awareness Month. Christopher Witt mentioned it here in his Life After PowerPoint blog.

When I googled the phrase “International Listening Association” on the first ten blogs listed at Alltop Speaking I came up empty. (There is no Alltop category for Listening). ILA also didn’t show up on Tom Antion’s Great Public Speaking blog. Apprarently the ILA is relatively unknown to many involved with public speaking and presentations. However, there is a blog called Listening Matters by Barbara B. Nixon, a past president of the ILA.

ILA publishes a scholarly magazine called The International Journal of Listening. The May issue has a lengthy article by Adams and Cox about The Teaching of Listening as an Integral Part of an Oral Activity: An Examination of Public-Speaking Texts. You can read the abstract here. The percent of ten current public speaking textbooks that covered listening was as follows:

17% - The Public Speaker/The Public Listener, Wolvin, Berko, Wolvin, 2ed, 1999
6% - Public Speaking: an audience-centered approach, Beebe and Beebe, 6ed, 2006
6% - Invitation to Public Speaking, Griffin, 2003
5% - Public Speaking: choices for effective results, Makay, Butland, Mason, 2008
5% - Public Speaking: building confidence in stages, Ferguson, 2008
4% - Effective Speaking, Verderber, Verderber, 12ed, 2003
4% - The Art of Public Speaking, Lucas, 9ed, 2007
3% - iSpeak: public speaking for contemporary life, Nelson, Titworth, Pearson, 2008
2% - A Speaker’s Guidebook,O’Hair, Stewart, Rubenstein, 3ed, 2007
2% - Public Speaking, Osborn, Osborn, Osborn, 2008

The senior author of the book with the 17% coverage of listening was Andrew D. Wolvin, a past president of the ILA.

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