When you find yourself in a "less than optimal" listening situation, one of these strategies can help:
Location, Location, Location
- Try to avoid rooms with poor acoustics, and arrange meetings in rooms with less reverberation.
- Arrive at meetings early, so you can get an optimal seat close to the speaker, but far away from a wall.
- Ask the speaker to speak in an area with good lighting so that you can easily use your speech reading skills (and observe facial expressions, gestures and body language).
- When you're in a restaurant or other public place, request a quiet location and sit with your back to a window or light source, so you can see the speaker's face more clearly.
- If someone is talking to you from a distance or another room, go there or ask the person to come to you.
- Request that a microphone or assistive listening device be available at meetings.
Guide Your Speaker
- Ask people speaking to you to talk clearly and naturally, without shouting or exaggerating. You may need to request that they stop eating, smoking, or covering their faces while talking to you to gain clarity.
- To aid your understanding, don't hesitate to ask your speaker to repeat or rephrase a statement. Repeat back what you heard to be sure you understood correctly.
- Try to relax. Becoming tense often results in missing important information and making more mistakes.
Stay on Topic
- Understanding speech while discussing a familiar topic is much easier for most people. Try asking a family member or co-worker for key words about the topic.
- Before going to a movie or the theater, read reviews in advance to familiarize yourself with the plot.
- Try to identify the ideas being discussed rather than understanding every word. Use information from the speaker to get the gist of what is being said.
- When someone is giving you important information, ask him or her to write down the crucial parts for you.
- Summarize what you have heard to ensure that you have understood the message correctly.
- If you enter a group in the middle of a conversation, ask someone to sum up what's already been discussed.