We all want others to listen to us, and sometimes we want them to accept our advice or opinions. But it doesn't always happen. Getting people to listen depends not only on what you say, but how you say it. Here are some tips to help you to get your message across. Collect your thoughts Nobody wants to listen to everything that crosses your mind, so resist the urge to blurt out the first thing that pops into your head. Instead, take a couple of minutes to collect your thoughts and focus on what you want to say. Decide what's most important. Then think about how best to express it. Give people a reason to listen We all like to listen to things that are important or entertaining to us. Get your listener's attention by giving them a reason to listen. Tell them upfront what they will gain by listening. For example, you could say, 'You might be interested in this' or 'I have some information that should be useful to you'. Most people will listen if you present information in terms of their interests. Use your voice Confident speakers don't have better voices than the rest of us - they just know how to use them. You, too, can use the volume, speed, tone and other qualities of your voice to get others to listen. For example, you can speak louder to get someone's attention or more slowly to emphasise something. You can lower your voice to draw the audience in or raise it to make a point. Your voice is your most powerful communication tool, so use it. Get to the point The best communicators use few words, but they choose them carefully. They don't clog their speech with 'ums' and 'uhs'. Nor do they beat around the bush. They just get to the point. Being direct, however, is not the same as being blunt. Direct communication is respectful and tactful: 'You've got lipstick on your teeth.' Bluntness is just plain hurtful: 'Don't you ever brush your teeth?' Get feedback Have you ever talked to someone who sat there with a blank look? No doubt, it left you wondering if the person agreed or disagreed with what you said. That's why it is so important to get feedback. Ask questions to uncover problems people might have with what you're saying. For example, 'What do you think?' or 'Did I explain myself clearly enough?' The key is to get the other person to share what's going on in his or her mind. What went wrong? Bob tried to get his roommate to help with the household chores, but didn't have much success. Read the passage below and find five mistakes Bob made. Bob: This probably isn't a good idea. But I'm ... uh ... tired of the way things are around here. Um ... you're a slob. This place is a mess. I think we should make a list of household chores and divide them between us. Right then, I'll ... uh ... put the list on the fridge. Bob's mistakes 1. Bob's opening line is enough to make his roommate tune out. He needs to give his roommate a reason to listen. He could start with something like 'I have a suggestion that might save us time'. 2. Bob's verbal fluff weakens the impact of his message. He needs to eliminate the 'ums' and 'uhs' from his speech. 3. Bob took five sentences to get to the point. He should have stated his idea sooner. 4. Bob is rude. Instead of saying, 'You're a slob', he could have said, 'It's a little messy around here'. 5. Bob didn't get feedback on his idea. Without his roommate's commitment, it's unlikely that anything will change.