Why you should improve verbal and nonverbal communication
If you want a corner office or dream of landing a seat in the C-Suite, improve your verbal and nonverbal communication. After all, leaders often are great communicators.
There’s no better time to hone your leadership communication skills, especially if you work for a global company. Top performing companies often are 14 times more likely than their low performing peers to report strong business results in the global marketplace – results attributable to leaders who possess the ability to drive performance in a global business environment. This, according to a 2015 global leadership report from the Institute for Corporate Productivity, the American Management Association and Training Magazine.
As we highlight in The Pin Drop Principle, all great communicators are perceived as clear, concise, confident, credible, and compelling. Here are some tips to improve verbal and nonverbal communication so others will perceive you as leadership material.
Improve verbal and nonverbal communication | The 5 C’s
Clear means we understand what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. It relies on your vocal dynamics – how you use your voice to deliver your words with intention (to educate, instruct, entertain, instruct, entertain, activate, or persuade).
Make sure your pitch matches your intention. The exact same words can have very different meanings depending on your pitch. Vary your pitch to make your speech or presentation sound musical. Convey energy and enthusiasm to your audience. Avoid monotone.
Eliminate “marble mouth.” Practice articulation by reciting tongue twisters out loud. Emphasize every sound, noticing how the various articulators move (lips, jaw, tongue, soft palate), as well as your all of the muscles in your mouth and face. Increase your speed with each reading.
Slow down. When you speak too fast, your audience perceives you as nervous or rushed, as if the message or material is not important or interesting enough to hold an audience’s attention. When you slow down, your audience can hear and process the information you’re providing.
Less is more. Lincoln’s Gettysburg address is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest speeches of all time. Harper’s Weekly described it as “the most perfect piece of American eloquence.”
At only 271 words—a mere four paragraphs—Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is an exercise in economy. By using powerful word choices, alliteration and metaphor, Lincoln showed how a simple, well-crafted message with a clear purpose can move the masses and resonate in a nation’s collective consciousness for centuries.
Make sure what you say and how you say it line up (are congruent). In 1967, Albert Mehrabian, a professor of psychology at UCLA, and author of Silent Messages, conducted a study to explore the relative impact of nonverbal communication and spoken words.
Mehrabian discovered that congruence between verbal and nonverbal communication was critical for communicator’s to deliver their message effectively. If there was incongruence (or mixed signals) between the three channels, an audience would rely more heavily on what they saw (55%) or what they heard (38%) to form their opinions rather than what was actually said (7%).
Believe your message. Demonstrate your expertise with supporting evidence. Answer questions thoughtfully, carefully, succinctly, and most importantly, confidently. Communicate so your audience understands – avoid jargon, be authentic, connect with eye contact. Maintain open and warm body language.
Tell a story. All great leaders are great storytellers. A good story will not only make your messages more memorable, it will also help you to clarify meaning and illustrate a concept or idea. Share a personal story or experience to quickly and effectively build trust with a listener. Reveal parts of yourself and your personality and make yourself vulnerable—and in turn, you invite the listener to do the same.
There is a common misconception that great communicators are born, not made. Not true. It is a result of disciplined practice and hours of hard work. In fact, great speakers work hard to improve verbal and nonverbal communication skills for precisely that reason: to make it look easy. They want their delivery to appear effortless in the eyes of an audience. In turn, the audience perceives them as clear, concise, confident, credible, and compelling.
To learn how you can improve verbal and nonverbal communication, please contact us.