Back from the ILA Listening Convention


Everyone says that listening is very important, I mean, really important…

Some people deeply understand the need to be more effective listeners and know that it can be learned. Some of them are strongly committed to researching, writing, teaching and spreading their experiences and knowledge everywhere they can for us to become better humans.

Where are these people? Coming from almost every part of the world, many of them can be found at the International Listening Association Convention once a year. 

This year it was in Trinity College Dublin. You may want to know more about the Convention and subscribe for the next one in Vancouver.

Watch out! You won’t be the same person after three days of a Listening Convention. Your awareness about your listening capabilities will be boosted to another level.

If it’s your first Convention, you’ll come out with a totally different mindset about listening to your environment and to other living beings, including humans 😉

This will help you understand others better, make you more respectful, tolerant… you may even want to give the gift of listening to everyone you meet! It may also make you decide to improve your skills in a domain you thought you had acquired the day you were born.

For those starting to wonder about my enthusiasm, no, the ILA is not a sect.

Photo: Shiba Club

This is my second Convention. I met wonderful, friendly, passionate, and highly knowledgeable people that I now call “my listening friends”.

I discovered other highly committed people, organizations and movements (Listen1st Project, Urban Confessional Free Listening, Someone To Tell It To, Nederland Luistert to name a few) with whom I had fruitful conversations about how to enhance global awareness on listening.

6af4b260-15c0-48d9-863d-0dfc027f74ae-originalPhotos: Corine Jansen
Benjamin Mathes, Pearce Godwin, Graham Bodie, Tom Kaden, Michael Gingerich, Corine Jansen, Richard D.Halley, Irene Göttgens and many ILA Listening Friends…

I attended fascinating and very moving presentations and listened to beautiful concerts! People shared genuinely on how listening, or the lack of it, was the core of their health, relationship, family or business experiences.

I personally learned about how to listen beyond emotional boundaries in difficult conversations or when too much enthusiasm is overwhelming! I’ve made some great discoveries about the Irish harp, its music, its history and how harp makers listen to build. I’ve seen school students ready to learn how to be better listeners providing we know how to tickle their interest. One presenter developed a model for such a class that could be spread all over the world.

Listening in health care is a subject in itself, in particular how we as patients are listened to by health care people and what we could do to have conversations enhanced by better listening, for the benefit of everyone.

Another interesting topic explored how our brain works hard to process the information effectively while at the same time struggling against the amount of internal noise we permanently have in our mind. 

We also learned how organizations can establish a Listening Culture, and how to give the gift of listening wherever we are by holding a simple cardboard sign that says, “Free Listening”.

Helena and BenjaminPhoto: Urban Confessional
Benjamin Mathes (Urban Confessional Free Listening) and Helena Walsh (Helena Walsh Voice Studio)

To get an idea of the huge variety of presentations on listening, see the program here
Convention Full Digital Program
Convention Program Descriptions with Presenter and Co-Author Bios


I had the privilege to present on my favorite subject, the parallels between listening to music and listening to people. The title of my presentation was “When you speak, you sing!”. It was an interactive talk, where participants could experience the effect of listening to the music in each other’s voice. 

I was honored to have an audience of researchers, authors, teachers with a life-time of experience on the subject of listening. I enjoyed sharing my work with them and getting their insights.  In every corner, room, corridor, park, pub, at lunches and banquets I found opportunities to have meaningful conversations that raised my understanding and skills in the field of listening.

After attending an ILA Convention, you won’t say that listening is “important”. You will say it’s “essential” to our survival and our life on this planet as an undivided human species. And you’ll feel an inner urge to take action on spreading the message.


Jean Francois Mathieu
Music Composer
Listening Culture Designer at Leaders Today
Chair of the ILA International Day of Listening 2018

The next important ILA event is the International Day of Listening, September 20. Any of your ideas to make it a memorable day is welcome, just contact me.

Discover the International Listening Association at
A gold mine of information and even more if you become a member.

Leaders Today is honored to be an affiliate partner of the ILA
Contact us for a Talk or a Workshop in your organization

#LeadersToday #InternationalListeningAssociation #DayOfListening #listening @DayOfListening


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