When you’re giving a presentation, or counseling an employee, the words you use are important. But it’s your facial expression and body movements that can convey so much more meaning. They make you a commanding presence and memorable speaker.
Being Your Own Best Visual
You have to be your own best visual in the room when you’re presenting. That involves the entire package: words, pictures and actions. If you’re stiff as a board and don’t use meaningful gestures you’ll fade into the background.
The messages you’re conveying need to be congruent and relevant. The audience will know you don’t mean it when you say, “I’m so happy to be here” without smiling while looking down at your notes and adjusting your glasses. That’s just going through the motions. It’s not authentic.
How much more powerful would your presentation be if you gestured emphatically and hit the desk as you’re saying, “Nothing is going to keep us from succeeding.” Note the added emphasis in your voice on the word nothing. You’re communicating your key message with words, images and a forceful gesture.
There is Nothing New
Sometimes it seems that brand new ways to communicate are being invented every day. However, we shouldn’t mistake the new channels of communication – like Skype and smart phones – with the actual messages we’re sending.
It’s essential to think carefully about how we communicate so that the recipient is absolutely clear about our intent. The sharp retort: “The deadline is 5 p.m. this afternoon!!” conveys much more than a simple “The deadline is 5 p.m. this afternoon,” said with quiet restraint.
Have you done something wrong when your manager raises his voice and then stalks out of the office? Of course, he is sending a very clear message. By the same token, we get the message when we feel a friendly pat on the back.
Nonverbal communication in business conveys so much more than words alone.
Why Does This Matter?
Electronic devices and social media are slowly squeezing out the texture and emotional impact of our communications. We dash off emails and text messages with little regard for how the recipient will receive or perceive the message.
Face-to-face communication where a smile can convey more than a thousand words is missing when increasingly work is done virtually, and a laptop becomes the business traveler’s office.
Younger professionals who live by texting and communicating virtually on Facebook and other social networks are missing other powerful means of expression. The emotional context expressed through gestures and appropriate images is missing. Or worse, the messages are being misunderstood.
The back pat, the belly laugh, and the vivid images – these convey so much more than simply the words. We may be forgetting how to use them when we substitute (-: don’t you think?