When you are preparing your speech, don't just think about the words you use. Believe it or not, they're the least important part of your message!
When we communicate face-to-face, only 7% of our message is conveyed by the words that we use. This is called the Verbal element of our message. Our tone of voice, volume and pronunciation make up the Vocal element which conveys 38% of our message. The largest piece of the message pie goes to the third V, the Visual element. This comprises our gestures, facial expressions and body language and conveys a whopping 55% of our overall message.
The key to successful, influential communication is knowing how to make these three Vs work for you.
When you first meet a person, your three Vs should be perfectly aligned. When you say, "It's nice to meet you," it shouldn't just be a phrase. Your tone and body language should also mirror this sentiment. If they don't, the person you met will know from your first words that something is "off."
When you are speaking in public, you also need your 3 Vs to mesh. If your body language says one thing, but your words and voice another, your audience won't trust you or your message. You can't preach about confidence, but look and sound insecure. You'll come across as being superficial - the kiss of death for any public speaker.
Of course there are times when you might purposely mismatch your 3 Vs. Sarcasm is a good example. When your words and your tone don't match, tone wins and your message is understood as being sarcastic. For example, you could honestly say, "I just love pizza!" Or if you've had pizza five nights in a row and someone asks if you want pizza for dinner you might sarcastically say, "You know me. I just looooovvvveeee pizza..." Even though your words say that you love pizza, your tone and the delivery of your message sends quite a different message.
I've mastered another use for the 3 Vs in my relationship with my husband. He asks me if he can go golfing on Saturday and I say, "Sure, honey, if you want to." My words are positive, but the tone is just slightly off. Not off enough to be sarcastic, but just off enough that his little feelers go out and he knows something bad is happening, but he's not quite sure what. When he puts the message together with my blasé body language he figures out that maybe Saturday isn't the best day to go golfing. I don't think I'm the only woman that's mastered this tactic! I'm probably just the only one who's honest enough to admit that I know what I'm doing!
Try observing the 3 Vs in action when you speak with different people in different situations. As you begin to tune in to how people convey their messages you'll find that it's easier to adjust your own.
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