Every communication or presentation course I go on uses the research by Albert Mehrabian that states that communication is
7% words (Verbal)
38% tone of voice (Vocal)
55% body language (Visual)
Well, this never really sat quite right with me – it just didn’t make sense. But people always seemed to nod their heads in agreement so I kind of went along with it.
Now I’m not saying tone of voice and body language aren’t important because they are – they can make the difference between a memorable and enjoyable presentation and a turgid and dry presentation. But words only count for 7%? That just isn’t logical.
After meeting Steve Denning yesterday it made me even more sure that the words we use are equally as powerful as the
words * tone of voice and body language we use.
And as Mahan Khalsa says “intent counts more than technique”
Well, it seems Mehrabian himself doesn’t think it’s always applicable – “Unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes, these equations are not applicable.” –
And the rule only kicks in when the Verbal/Vocal and Visual aren’t in synch – eg I say I like you but my body language tells you otherwise.
So next time you hear someone state this rule ask them to have a discussion or dialogue with you using only humming and the power of mime and see how far they get .. .. ..
* Thanks to AndyLaLa for the correction 🙂