Long After the Words are Forgotten

How effective are you at getting your message across when you speak? Whether it’s speaking to large groups or small, if you think you could be better, here are a few pointers that might help.

When speaking to groups of people, there is more going on that just the words we use. The actual words we say are only part of the picture when it comes to getting people to remember what we have said. You have probably noticed this before, but it may not have been at the conscious level.

Whether you are speaking in front of a large group, to your kids, or with your boss – they aren’t just listening to your words. Your non-verbal body language – what you are wearing, how you stand or sit, your posture, eye contact, tone of voice – all carry a strong message. For example, if you say, “Tell me about it” to your children, but don’t stop what you are doing and you don’t look directly at them, what you are really saying is, “You are not important enough for me to pay attention to you.” Now, you may not actually say these words, but your children get the message.

Using your voice effectively is important, too. You can set the tone of a conversation by how loudly or softly you speak, and you can emphasize the parts you really want remembered by raising or lowering your voice. Of course, you already know about the impact of smiles and frowns. A smile usually means approval, openness and approachability. But even smiles can be threatening if they don’t match the content of what you are saying.

Effective communication has become a critical component of successful organizations. If you want to be a good communicator, pay attention not only to what you say, but also to the way you say it. That is often what will be remembered, long after the words themselves are forgotten.