Can you hear me now?

“I have full signal, it must be you.”

“No, it must be you, I haven’t moved and I have 5 bars.”

How often have you received a call back from the person you thought you were talking to and with great frustration you ask, “At what point did I lose you?” Bad reception causes interruption to communication.

If no one is listening, are you really communicating?

We hear it all the time – “You’re only a leader if someone is following.” So then it stands to reason that you’re only communicating if someone is listening. But what causes a “bad signal” or blocks the exchange of information in our communication efforts? You may not want to take the blame, but chances are, it’s YOU!

Communication research shows that only 35% of what we hear and understand is from verbal communication and up to 65% is from non-verbal communication. In other words, facial expressions, voice inflections, gestures, movement and eye contact are more crucial to our communication efforts than even the words we speak.

The “bad reception” in your communication efforts could be coming from you as the communicator. You may spend all of your time and effort on the words you’ll use, but if your non-verbals don’t enhance your message- your message could be lost on its hearers.

Tips to Improve Your Non-Verbal Communication

Eye Contact
When you talk to someone who looks you in the eye, it communicates confidence, sincerity, care and attention.

  • Hold eye contact with a listener for no less than 2-3 seconds at a time.
  • Maintain eye contact through a complete thought.
  • Avoid shifty eyes or looking away too much. This communicates insecurity and lack of confidence.

Facial Expressions

When you speak, your face more clearly than any other part of your body, communicates to your listener about your attitude, feelings and emotions.

Do your facial expressions match what you’re communicating? Emotional consistency is necessary in order to avoid causing distrust with your audience. When you say “I’m so excited to be here,” be sure that your facial expressions communicate that excitement.

What does your “resting face” say? Your “resting face” might unintentionally communicate that you are bored, upset or confused when you’re really just listening. Becoming aware of what your face “says” to others is an important step to successful non-verbal communication. Work towards having a neutral expression when listening to others.

Gestures

The best way to learn what distracting gestures you may use is to video yourself speaking. We all have quirks and unique mannerisms but it’s important that those gestures don’t stand in the way of effective communication. The goal is to appear comfortable, not awkward.

Good gestures are:

  • Intentional: Use gestures that are purposeful.
  • Diverse: Use a variety of gestures, not just the same arm motions.

Don’t be afraid to rest. Keeping your arms by your side may feel very awkward but it appears normal to your audience. Then when you do use a gesture, it provides emphasis for what you are verbally communicating.

Voice

Studies show that the sound of a speaker’s voice matters twice as much as the content of the message.

Read that again. You know exactly what this is getting at! How often do you get so annoyed by a person’s voice that you stop listening?

To increase your charisma and credibility, increase the amount of fluctuation in your voice tone, volume and pitch. This takes practice but it’s worth it! If you struggle with any of these, seek out coaching. It’s hard to grow in this by yourself.

Movement

Movement is critical to being an effective public speaker. Here’s how to master the art:

  • Avoid constant movement or pacing. It can cause you to look insecure and nervous. Not to mention that it tires your audience.
  • Be still unless there is a reason to move.
  • Move with purpose.

As a leader and entrepreneur, you have a message to share. You will communicate that message in one way or another, but the question is – is anyone listening?

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