Today’s entry is an excerpt from my updated position paper, “How Important Are Nonverbal Signals?”
Prosody is a fancy word academics use to describe the vocal intonations that accompany speech and help convey meaning. For ease of understanding, I label these your Audio tools. They tend to transmit your level of authority or influence to your listeners, and consist of:
- Pitch: No one wants to be subjected to a sleep-inducing monotone or an annoying singsong voice. Vary your inflection and modulation, but don’t overdo it. Keep your pitch consistent with your persona.
- Articulation: Public communication requires a somewhat more formal style of speaking. If your enunciation is letter perfect, congratulations. Don’t change.
- Volume: Throw in an occasional change of pace. Speak louder, then softer to better maintain your listeners’ attention.
- Emotion: In my experience, this is the most often ignored factor, and dangerously so. If you don’t care, why should an audience or a reporter be concerned?
- Rate: As with pitch and volume, the key here is to vary your rate over the course of your interview or presentation.
Harmonious Video tools and Audio tools bolster your message, so don’t accentuate one set at the expense of the other. Baseball teams with great pitching and no hitting rarely capture the World Series. Similarly, all the homerun sluggers in the world cannot make up for a poor pitching staff. Balance is what it’s all about when utilizing your nonverbal tools.
Note well that a focus solely on acting techniques or the timbre of your voice misses the mark. Yes, those abilities matter (or this paper would be rendered meaningless), but do not believe for one moment that you will achieve success on the podium or in the press if you master only your nonverbal tools.
Cast a wary eye upon anyone who claims their ability to teach you acting methods will, in and of itself, transform you into a good speaker. That is only part of the equation. While they may have experience when it comes to displaying body language, they likely have little to no expertise in helping you craft a magnetic message capable of winning converts in the business world. Ignoring that aspect would prove risky for you and your organization.
Your message and your nonverbal signals are intricately intertwined. Make your message attractive to your listeners by adorning it with sharp Video and Audio performances to give that message a sense of magnetism. You need all of your communications skills—verbal and nonverbal—operating at a high level if you want to achieve communications success.
Curious how you can ramp up your nonverbal ablities? Check out the exercises in Appendix B of “How Important Are Nonverbal Signals?” Then let me know what other drills you’ve found useful in your travels. They could well make it into print in the next edition.