9th Dec 2013
A discussion started recently on Linkedin about the importance of words, tone and body language. The initial comment stated figures from a study done on communication by R Mehrabian - that message is carried by 7% words, 38% tone and 55% body language” - started a fair bit of discussion.
Why is tone imporatant? In speech changing aspects of our voice can change the meaning of a comment or statement. For example, if we ask: “are you coming by taxi?” in a neutral tone it is simply a question as to how we might be travelling. If we raise our voice and ask the same question in a loud voice, it might suggest we are angry about this choice of transport.
By contrast when we write (text and email included) we cannot hear tone. Our punctuation might suggest our tone but we can’t be sure if someone is trying to be funny, mean or sarcastic by words alone. Which is why conversation (face to face is best) is by far the better way to communicate, to hear the words and understand the meaning beneath the words.
Record yourself repeating the same phrase but using different tone of voice so you can hear exactly how we carry meaning in our tone. Learning how to change your tone is covered in the modulation section of the Say It Clearly manual. For more information contact the author.
28th May 2013
The first aspect to effective speaking in any situation is ensuring you are relaxed. This doesn’t mean fall asleep relaxed but making simple adjustments to your body to make sure you can breathe properly and produce the best speaking voice you can.
If there is any undue tension in any of the muscles that are used for breathing or voice production, the speech produced will have some fault, such as a hard tone or harsh breathing. The speech produced will therefore not be as effective or as clear as it could be.
Reasons why we can feel nervous before speaking vary. It could be we are worried the listener might not like what we have to say, concerned that what we are going to say isn’t suitable for the audience, we might not be sure that we are expressing ourselves clearly or that we can be heard. We might worry that we will forget our memorised work or that we haven’t prepared ourselves properly.
Signs of our nerves can include; screwing up or hands into tight balls, pulling our shoulders up to our ears, rocking forwards and backwards on our feet, over gesturing, saying um or ah.
Everyone feels nerves before they speak. It is completely natural but you need to learn to calm your anxiety so you are able to get your message across and deliver your speech to the best of your ability.
For those who really hate speaking to any sort of audience being prepared, believing and understanding what you’re going to say is the most important part of learning to relax.