Communication is only 7% words .. .. or is it?

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 🙂

Comments (1)

  1. AndyLala says:

    "yesterday it made me even more sure that the words we use are equally as powerful as the words we use"

    the words we use are as powerful as the words we use… I am sure I was missing a tonal or visual queue here… or were we meant to pick that up…?

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