You've got to be believed to be heard, and your believability does not come from your content! People buy into your ideas, your message, and your persuasion at an almost unconscious level - by gauging your level of confidence and openness. As a speaker, we build trust by physical cues (behavior) that often have nothing to do with our message.
3 Keys Issues of Believability in Communication:
Albert Mehrabian (Silent Messages, Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1981) found that believability in communication comes from three things:
- The Message Content - Verbal
- What We See - Visual
- What We Hear - Vocal
While the message content (verbal) is the most important thing we want to get across to people, it is not the most important component for believability. Professor Mehrabian did extensive research that shows the believability of each component when our messages are inconsistent:
- Verbal - 7%
- Vocal - 38%
- Visual - 55%
Many speakers give inconsistent messages - exhorting action but nervously undermining authority with gestures, eyes, and voice.
Nine Communication Skills that Make You Most Believable:
- Eye Communication: the ability to make and maintain eye contact in a meaningful way
- Gestures and Facial Expression: animation communicated through your face and body that conveys energy
- Posture and Movement: reflecting confidence and energy in your body position and movement
- Dress and Appearance: presenting yourself in a way that does not detract from the message
- Voice and Vocal Variety: employing pitch, volume, and vocal energy that will keep your listener engaged
- Words and Fillers: choosing to use language that is devoid of fillers (annoying ums, ahs, and you knows)
- Humor: a healthy sense of humor about yourself and life in general that makes you approachable and likable
- Listener Involvement: using several simple ways to involve yourself with your listeners
- The "Natural Self": being real - internalizing new skills so they become natural
Where do I start?
Eye Contact - The number one problem I've found in working with thousands of people in speaking and communications is the lack of good eye communication. Approximately 75 percent of people have poor eye contact.
Tools for Improving Eye Contact:
- Count to Five - Look for 5 seconds to achieve that appropriate level of eye communication. A feeling of involvement requires about five seconds of steady eye contact, the time we normally take to complete a thought or a sentence.
- Beware of Eye Dart and Slow Blink - When we lack confidence or feel the pressure, our instinct is to avoid the eyes of our listener. Eye dart shows nervousness - like a scared rabbit, we exude the aroma of fear. When a person closes his eyes for two or three seconds (slow blink), it says "I don't really want to be here."
- Get on Video - Make a video tape of yourself speaking and then watch it several times, focusing especially on your eye movements.
As you employ these exercises and eye communication becomes habitual, you will notice that you feel less nervous and you appear more confident.