The Verbal and Non-Verbal Elements of Speaking for Success

I am writing this while sitting at the O’Hare Chicago airport.

I have just completed a double session with a group of extraordinary, motivated AD Sales professionals.

The focus of the day was Maximizing Presentation Impact and Networking for Success or as I like to say Building Relationships for Career Success.

We started the day focusing on the qualities that make great speakers.
If you really analyze it, these qualities can be broken down to the verbal and non-verbal elements.  Verbal elements include vocal tone, relevance and intelligence.  Some of the non-verbal qualities are energy, charisma, charm, warmth, and eye contact. Both sets of elements are of equal importance.

Professor Meharabian, a UCLA professor, did a study around 25 yrs ago, that said, 7% of the way a message was received depended on the content, the “what” of what was actually said. 93% he claimed was the non-verbal, vocal quality and physical appearance, gesture etc.

While this study is commonly quoted, I don’t think we can be definitive. So for the purposes of improving your overall “presence” it is important to remember both. We always need to be aware of both the WHAT and the HOW.

The group was intrigued by seeing themselves on video playback, because so often we lack awareness of how we come across, particularly under stress. It is very often in the unconscious moments, that we sabotage ourselves coming across as powerfully, confidently and persuasively as we could.

It is very often in the swaying of our lower bodies, or the ringing of our hands that we distract our audience and in so doing undermine ourselves.

The other thing the group noticed was how often fillers such as “um”, “like”, “you know” and “I think” were used.  There is no magic way to stop using fillers, like everything else, it take conscious effort and mental notes to self.

Remember, all self improvement begins simply with “self awareness” and it is for this reason that we continue to see enormous improvement in every session

As always, if you have tips for overcoming nerves or reducing the use of filler words, please let us know. Your input is always invaluable!