Communication Breakdown

If you want to influence people in a virtual world, better sharpen your nonverbal skills.

Yes, nonverbal.

Researcher Albert Mehrabian found that meaningful communication is a combination of our words, tone and body language. And not in equal measure. Just 7% of our message comes from words, 38% from tone of voice and 55% from body language.  

The 7-38-55 model has been around for decades. But with millions of us working remotely, this theory has been totally disrupted. We spend our days blasting out emails and memos. Just words on a screen without tone or emotion.

Words lose impact when you’re a lonely voice on a teleconference, or a disembodied head on a Zoom call. But it’s how you say them that matters. As we emerge from the darkness, those with strong communication skills will have a tremendous advantage

Here’s my take. Microsoft now lets people work from home, permanently. More will follow. We’re witnessing a sea change that will put a real premium on those who can communicate effectively. A new generation of leaders will only know how to work remotely.

So, try this. Stand in front of a mirror and say, “I can’t believe that” in different ways. Sound excited, angry, stunned etc. Add subtle gestures and facial expressions – and notice how your tone shapes the meaning of your words.

On conference calls, speak with confidence in tight, descriptive thoughts. Alter the pace of your voice, use inflection and pause for effect. Sound animated, without overdoing it. Sometimes it’s best to be the whisper that screams.  

Some Zoom tips: Don’t look like a frightened hostage victim. Light your face properly, and smile. Make direct eye contact, lean in, engage.

And don’t masturbate while on camera.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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