Getting your ideas across, face-to-face (Message from the CTO, newsletter 53)

30 August 2011

This message was fun to write and to record. Since it’s about non-verbal communication, it naturally lent itself to a script format and to video.

Getting your ideas across, face-to-face

(JULIAN IS COMPLETELY STILL. HE IS READING FROM A SHEET OF PAPER, HIS FACE LOOKING DOWN AND SLIGHTLY HIDDEN. HIS VOICE IS A MONOTONE.)
JULIAN: In the late 60s and early 70s, Albert Mehrabian was researching how we perceive information presented to us verbally. His investigation centered on three areas:

  • The actual words being spoken
  • The tone of voice used to present the information
  • The body language, or non-verbal cues

(AMANDA TAKES OVER. HER VOICE IS ANIMATED, PASSIONATE, BUT SHE'S LOOKING OFF LEFT (RIGHT) AND NOT INTO THE CAMERA. NO EMOTION/BODY LANGUAGE -- SHE'S AS STILL AS JULIAN WAS.)
AMANDA: He came to the conclusion that all three parts had to be "congruent" in order to effectively present the information being imparted. If one part is out of whack, the communication of ideas is strongly decreased.

(NOW FULL ENGAGEMENT WITH THE AUDIENCE. HAND GESTURES FOR EMPHASIS, THE WORKS.)
JULIAN: Furthermore, he assigned a percentage to each part to describe how effective it was. This became known as the 7%-38%-55% rule. Incredibly enough, non-verbal cues are the most effective way to get your message across.

(THE SAME.)
AMANDA: Although Mehrabian's research centered on ambiguous communications where the subject of the experiment was asked to like or dislike the speaker, or otherwise evaluate their feelings about the speaker, the conclusions are applicable to verbal communications in general.

(NOW JULIAN AND AMANDA ARE ENGAGING WITH EACH OTHER AS WELL AS THE AUDIENCE.)
JULIAN: Although possibly not with the same percentages.

AMANDA: So next time you have a presentation to make in front of an audience, be it just one person or a room of people...

JULIAN: Engage that audience with your words, tone of voice, and non-verbal cues.

AMANDA: Pay attention to your body language. Open up, don't close down. Be passionate.

(STILL AGAIN, READING FROM SCRIPT. MONOTONE.)
JULIAN: Or you will sound like this. And no one will remember or care what you had to say.

You can get the full effect by watching the video here.

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