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It Ain’t What You Say, It’s The Way That You Say It. Does It Get Results?

You’ve likely heard the adage from Albert Mehrabian that 38% of communication is tonality, 55% is body language and just 7% of meaning is communicated through the words spoken.

I’d argue that’s kind of true… until it’s not. The brilliant Jamie Smart said something along the lines of “there are certain words I can’t use in front of my grandmother regardless of what tonality I use!”. It’s also a somewhat oversimplified version of what Mehrabian actually said as you’ll find here.

But why let the facts get in the way of a decent blog, eh?

At Verbu, a decent chunk of our business comes from helping people with their podcasts. And if you’re creating audio, that 55% of body language is immediately removed; leaving you with just words and tonality.

And I would propose that the words become more important WHEN they’re delivered with the correct tonality.

Yes, we can help you with body language and stage presence but if you have an important communication you need to make today and whether the recipient can see you or not, consider the following:

- Does your tonality match the words you are saying? Think of how you could deliver the “stretch” to sound like the word itself is being stretched, the pitch of your voice when describing something “tiny” or the volume you use when describing someone as a “loud” character

- Think about the rise and fall, and the cadence of your voice. Are you at risk of delivering everything in a monotone manner?

- What descriptive words are you using? Could you bring what you are saying more ‘alive’ with those words?

- Do you have words you repeat or overuse? Weed them out. Unless you’re purposely using them multiple times, they’ll lose their power on each use

Oh – and there’s one thing that Mehrabian perhaps missed – the power of the….. pause. Use it. Sometimes not-talking is even more impactful than the actual talking.

And I promise that 100%

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