It's Not What You Say, It's How You Say….Right!Outside Contributor
To begin with, notice I said “Right!” and not “Right?” in the title. Easier to make clear in writing by using punctuation. Now say it out loud to someone and you will probably get a response even though it is a statement not a question. Why? Because “right” in this sentence sounds like a question. Try it!
So, back to the real cliche’ in the title, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Yes, indeed it is so true and we have heard many times. If you break it down even more, here is what many “experts” say. They say communication is over 90% non-verbal. Meaning, your tone and physiology make up over 90% of what you communicate and your words contribute less than 10% to the communication process. Staggering but it is what many experts say!
So what’s the point with all this? If your communication is so tied to your tone and physiology, shouldn’t you know how you perform in these areas and work to optimize those skills. After all, it is essentially determining whether you get the job and close the sale. It is also probably just as important when you are dealing with one individual or a couple (think residential bidding) as it is in the formal big pitch environment. Knowing how you come across in communications, words, tone, and physiology, could offer you some insights that could prove invaluable in improving conversion rates.
Role playing is a great way to work on this. By role playing and practicing, you can get real time and candid feedback from friends and family. You can even record yourself and self evaluate as well as stand in front of a mirror. As you go through your pitch or talk, here are a few things to really observe.
How is pitch and pace?
Do you look and sound sincere?
Do you come across eager and in a hurry to close and go? Or, do you come across caring, deliberate, and wanting to address concerns?
What about your body language? Fidgety, nervous, or calm and confident?
Are you inviting dialogue or giving a speech? Your pace and interaction should invite questions. When you pause don’t “uh” and “um”. Those are annotated pauses and aren’t as inviting to comments and questions as a genuine pause. Intuition should tell you when the questions or dialogue are coming. You need to be engaged in dialogue not giving a speech or pitch.
The list of things to look for and think about goes on and on. For more, see this exhaustive list of presentation tips from slideshare.net. The site has an entire section on presentations and public speaking and is an increible resource. If you join, you can download the presentations too (the whole site is an incredible resource and has virtually every topic you can think of but be sure and read the user agreement – it is owned by LinkedIn).
We all know how important the ability to communicate verbally is and it’s not just about sales and marketing. We have to be able to communicate with all our stakeholders and good, clear, concise communication can make the difference between success and failure. At the same time, it is something we all take for granted and probably should invest a little more time and effort in. There are plenty of good resources out there.
If you are looking for some developmental areas going into the winter or slow season, maybe communications and speaking skills should be on the short list.