Non-verbal Communication

You’ve been waiting a very long time for this day to come. It’s Monday, and you are going to listen to a speech about ‘Why People Should Not Wear Skinny Jeans.’ All cozied up in the audience, you anxiously await the speaker’s arrival. And does he ever arrive!

With a loud drum roll, the speaker rushes the stage with a great big smile, bows down and gives the audience a slap on the hands, points randomly at certain individuals and even gives a thumbs-up to others. But most importantly, he looks directly into your eyes and winks! Wow, it’s as if he knew each and every person in the audience.

That, my friend, is nonverbal communication, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the speaking event. It is the use of body movements to send a message to the audience. A dazzling smile, high-fives and waves probably make the audience feel very special. There are several ways in which the speaker can connect with the audience without ever saying a word.

What does this actually mean?

Your words, the content of your presentation, are clearly very important. Try giving a silent presentation using only non-verbal communication (visual and tonal cues) and you’ll find it very difficult to convey a clear message that everyone understands. Words convey meaning.

Non-verbal cues compliment or accent the words and provide information about emotion and attitude. Good presenters understand the importance of this and bring their words to life in how they tell the story.

Gesture                      

What you do with your hands. Common gestures include waving, pointing, and using fingers to indicate numeric amounts

Facial Expression      

Facial expressions are responsible for a big proportion of non-verbal communication. How many business presentations have you sat through where the presenter didn’t smile once. Expressions can vary dramatically between cultures, yet facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger and fear are similar throughout the world.

Eye Contact                

It means levels of eye contact, staring and blink rates. Sometimes a nervous presenter will stare at a fixed point at the back of the room to avoid getting eye contact with their audience.

Posture & Movement 

How you stand and move gives information to your audience about your confidence and levels of control among other things.

Touch                         

You may not have physical contact with your audience members, but you will be constantly touching yourself or other objects around you.

Personal Space         

In a crowded space this might be quite small, but for a typical presentation situation it is likely to be around 10 to 12 feet (3 to 4 metres)

Appearance               

Our choice of colour, clothing, hairstyles and other factors affecting appearance are also considered a means of nonverbal communication.

Paralanguage            

How we sound. The loudness, pitch, modulation, speed, rhythm, intonation and emphasis of our voice

So finally we can conclude that Non-verbal communication plays a vital role in the success of any presentation. It has the power to engage your audience with crystal clear messages or confuse your audience, leaving them doubting what you have said and distrustful of your message.

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