Words Music Dance…
In a world where so much communication is via email and social media, I sometimes worry that we’re losing the art of good, old fashioned, face to face communication. We still use it every day – in our personal relationships, at work, in interviews, in our every day interactions. There’s only so much that we can achieve at work via email and social media alone. Eventually most of us will to have to engage with clients, colleagues and other stakeholders face to face and so effective, real time communication and personal impact is still crucial.
We often put a lot of time and effort into the words we use to communicate (how long can it take sometimes to edit your message into a 140 character tweet!), but research suggests that around 55% of our impact in face to face communication is down to our body language (‘dance’), 38% stems from our tone of voice (‘music’) and only 7% from our words.
Our choice of words is still important but, if we want to build really good rapport and appear confident (even if inside we’re quaking in our boots!) we need to give much more attention to our tone and especially to our body language:
- Select your words carefully with both your audience and desired impact in mind. Consider the emotional impact that you would like to achieve and choose your words accordingly, ie if you wish to be perceived as calm and objective remain neutral and avoid emotionally charged words, like ‘stupid’, ‘exciting and ‘upset’. However, if you wish to generate some energy and excitement, for example, do consider using appropriate emotionally charged words such as ‘wonderful’, ‘exhilarating’ and ‘energising’.
- Don’t undermine what you are saying with throw away phrases like, ‘It’s just my opinion..’ and ‘Sorry’ (both negative) or with meaningless fillers such as ‘I mean..’ and ‘Well..’. Say what you mean directly and assertively (see our blog http://arbre.je/2017/07/26/four-behaviours-of-effective-people-1-assertiveness/ for a quick lesson on assertive behaviours).
- Don’t be afraid to have notes with key words to hand as a prompt. However, do avoid the temptation of writing out your speech or presentation word for word. It is very difficult to read a script and look at and engage with your audience without getting lost. If you know your content well (practice makes perfect) a few prompts is all that you will need to keep you on track, and the speech will be delivered far more smoothly and confidently.
- Speak clearly and keep your tone even and moderate to low in pitch (nerves can make the pitch of our voices higher and squeakier!). Don’t make a statement sound like a question by allowing your tone to go up at the end of a sentence. This only serves to weaken its impact.
- Slow down your pace, especially if you are a fast talker (and we are all prone to do this when we are nervous!) so that the audience can engage with and follow what you are saying. They will switch off if you gabble your words and it will appear as though you are trying to get your presentation over and done with as quickly as possible!
- Don’t be afraid of silences – their effect can be powerful (although they may feel like an eternity to you!). For example, pausing after delivering a key message gives your audience a chance to really take on board what you have just said and emphasise its importance. It also subtly signals that you are in control and confident in what you are delivering.
- Be aware of your posture – stand tall with your shoulders back. If you are sitting down, make sure at least one foot is firmly planted on the ground.
- Maintain eye contact and smile – the smile will be heard in your tone too making you sound warm and engaging.
- Make your hand gestures purposeful and deliberate. Avoid fluttery hand movements (they will make you look weak or anxious) and exaggerated and uncontrolled gesticulation (aside from making it likely that you will take something or someone out (!), they may make you seem nervous and distract the audience).
- Body language is the most difficult aspect of our communication to control as it involves the management of hundreds of different muscles in our bodies and movement that we are often completely unaware of! It is worth asking a friend or colleague for some feedback on your body language (or even ask them to film you giving a presentation) so that you can be aware of your little, unconscious habits and thus do something about them (I never knew that I was constantly fiddling with my jewellery until I saw a rather excruciating video of myself delivering a presentation! It became a very easy habit to break once I was aware of it though).
Now that you are more conscious of your own Words, Music and Dance – you can use this heightened awareness to better understand the subtleties – and often the real message – behind other people’s communication. Your colleague might be saying that they agree with you, for example, but if their arms are crossed in front of their bodies and/or they are avoiding eye contact they are probably not being entirely honest…!
Just a few sessions of impact coaching can make a huge difference to your confidence and communication skills – and we’d love to help you. For the months of September and October only we’d be delighted to offer you a special Impact Coaching package of 3 sessions for only £150.00. Impact coaching is ideal for anyone seeking to improve their confidence in communication, whether it be in preparation for a specific presentation, speech, meeting or interview, or to help you generally in dealing with nerves and anxiety when communicating in work situations. Please do contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial discussion about your individual coaching needs.