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Is E-Mail Diluting Your Message?

communicate Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, is the author of Silent Messages. This book discusses his legendary research into the relative importance of verbal and non-verbal communication.

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Mehrabian’s rule

When you’re trying to communicate emotions, think about the three V’s: verbal, vocal, and visual. They are the three parts of what has become known as Mehrabian’s Rule – 7% of your message is given verbally (the words you use), 38% comes vocally (the tone you use), and 55% is delivered visually (your facial expressions and body language).

We see from his research that, when we’re trying to convey feelings or attitudes, the overwhelming majority of the message comes through non-verbally. If the verbal and non-verbal don’t agree, people will rely on the non-verbal.

Choosing your medium

Therefore, understanding the three V’s of communication helps you prevent misunderstanding. If the recipient of your message can’t hear and see you say the words, your message may get diluted.

E-mail is convenient, but it can be easily misunderstood because it’s only words. What about text messages?

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marylynnA friend of mine told me that her husband’s ex-wife texts her husband about problems with their kids. My friend gets frustrated after several rounds of nothing getting solved. She says she tells him to just call his ex-wife.

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So choose your medium carefully if you’re trying to convey feelings or attitudes. Some media only use one part of the communication trio, and a very minor one at that!

If you’re just relaying facts, e-mail is fine. If you want to express more than that, your message may get diluted. A phone call enriches the conversation because you bring in the voice. And while it’s not always possible to meet face-to-face, it is your best bet for your most sensitive communication.

Speaking of which …

Let’s apply this to a presentation, whether your audience is one or many. How you say what you say, and what you do when you say it, are actually more important, in getting your message across, than what you say.

What?

It’s hard to explain this in just words. Hey, that illustrates our point!

You can say, “I’m excited.” If you say it with enthusiasm in your voice while standing straight up, your audience will believe you. If you say it like Droopy says, “I’m happy” and slouch while you’re saying it, your audience may doubt you.

People remember the impression more than the words. So if you want to connect with an audience, it’s important to practice your inflections and your gestures to make sure they’re congruent with your words.

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We really appreciate you reading our post today. If you listened to our show, you could’ve heard our appreciation in our voices! Join us next time when we get a visit from a very special guest – Santa Claus. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Directions that Discourage

twisted_directions We saw the results of a fascinating study over at Medical News Today. The researchers tested how the directions about a task affect the perception of the task itself. They started by trying to motivate college students to exercise.

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They gave the students directions on how to implement an exercise program. Half of the students got directions in an easy-to-read Arial font. The other half received the same directions in a Brush font (think paint brush), which is difficult to read.

Then the researchers asked these students:

  • to estimate how long the exercise routine would take
  • how easy it would be
  • if they would make it part of their regular routine

The “Arial” group thought that it would take less time and be easier than the “Brush” group, who also was less likely to make it a part of their daily ritual.

It’s amazing how something as simple as the font we choose could make so much difference. Just to be sure their results weren’t skewed by the students’ preconceived notions about exercise, the researchers performed a similar experiment with a recipe for sushi.

The outcome was similar. They concluded that if instructions are easier to read, people respond positively.

Enough about fonts, let’s put all the pieces together

We need to think about the directions we give to make sure they’re not discouraging our people. We don’t want to make a simple task sound complicated by our directions. Since people equate the ease of a given task to the ease of the directions about that task, we need to think about our:

  • Message
    Be sure you’re clear in what you’re saying. Also be concise. Eliminate the fluff. Focus on writing high-impact copy.
  • Design
    Obviously, the font you use plays a role. So does      white  space     . Graphical elements are always good. You should also use headers and bullet points when possible to make your directions easier to digest.
  • Words
    Sixteen-syllable words don’t impress many people; they have the opposite affect on far more. Jargon doesn’t help either. Use words that your audience will easily understand.

Look at the following two sentences:

You’ll save money if you buy gas today.

Buying gas today could be economically advantageous.

Which one conveys the message better to you? Which words do you like? Which structure if preferable?

We often make the mistake of thinking “fancy” words said in our passive voice make us sound smarter or more professional. Usually it’s the opposite. We’re deemed smart when we connect with the audience we’re trying to reach.                

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Next time, we’ll discuss how to be a good winner (or loser). Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Are You Smart Enough to Say It Simply?

Today, we’ll share a recent experience with an intern and a doctor. The intern explained what was going on, and we understood almost none of it. He only used medical terms. When we questioned him, he compounded it with even more technical words. A great guy, but he didn’t communicate effectively.

Then we talked to the doctor. The doctor explained everything in human terms so we fully understood. Sure, she used technical terms, but she quickly explained what they meant in layman’s language.

She was smart enough to say it simply!

So from that we can only conclude that women are better communicators than men!

Okay, that’s not what we’re saying. It’s not about gender, it’s about these three factors:

#1 – Personal characteristics

Consider two ends of the spectrum – on one end, there are people who lack confidence. On the other end, there are people with ego.

Confidence. These people may be somewhat new to the subject they’re trying to explain so they’re not that sure of themselves yet. They’re uncomfortable talking about it. So they talk about it the way they learned it – in technical terms. It’s a nervous reaction.

Ego. These people are experts and they want you to know just how smart they are. They may even be arrogant. They’re smart, but not smart enough to realize how important it is to clearly communicate with their audience.

#2 – Communication skills
This is about preparation. They know they have a message to relay, but they don’t put any thought into how to relay it. They’re very skilled in their profession, but they don’t know how to communicate with the average Jane or Joe.

#3 – People skills
They’re not able to read the people to whom they’re talking. If they get a blank stare, it doesn’t register that the person doesn’t understand. These people are brilliant in their profession, but they lack the ability to connect with people, especially those outside their profession.

2 tips to say it simply
Here are two questions to ask yourself about your audience before you try to communicate with them:

Question #1 – What is their level of understanding about your subject?
The answer to this question will help you determine how you form your message. If you’re talking to a colleague, you can go crazy with all that jargon you love! If you’re talking to someone outside your profession, keep it simple!

Question #2 – What do they need to know?

If the CliffsNotes version will do, don’t recite the whole book! Determine what’s really important and leave out all the rest. They’ll ask you if they want more.

It’s smart to keep it simple!

Our bigg quote today comes from the French philosopher, Voltaire:

“If you wish to speak with me, define your terms.”

And limit those terms to terms of use by your audience.

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Next time, we’ll offer guidance to a business owner who’s going through tough times. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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9 Presentation Tips to Make You a Star

rockstar

Performing live didn’t bother Dean Martin at all. On the other hand, Frank Sinatra got quite nervous before shows. One night, right before a show, Dean noticed Frank’s anxiety again. Dean said, “Why are you so nervous, Frank? It’s just singing!”

Some people would rather walk on a bed of hot coals than make a public presentation. But it’s just speaking! Getting good at presentations is a sure-fire career builder. Just be prepared going in! 

#1 – Define your purpose.
What is the desired outcome of your presentation? Know this before you do anything else. You’ll make a lot of choices as you build a great presentation; know your purpose so you make better decisions.

#2 – Know your audience.
What’s their background? What are their preferences? What has worked well for people who have made presentations to them before? What didn’t work? Design your presentation for their needs and wants.

#3 – Develop the appropriate collateral materials.

With your purpose, audience, and content in mind, develop needed support materials.  For example, believe it or not, some people hate PowerPoint presentations. If you know that in advance, you might use flip charts or some other tool instead.

#4 – Develop a back-up plan.

Ask yourself, “What could go wrong?” For example, we’ve all witnessed technical difficulties. Prepare for it in advance. Your show must go on!

#5 – Plan for interaction.
Think about questions and comments that might arise. In some cases, you’ll respond on-the-spot. In others, you may defer to a follow-up discussion. Some questions or comments may not be relevant. In all cases, know how you’ll stay on track.

#6 – Put yourself in the role.

Refer to our blog, The Role of Role Playing. Rehearse by yourself, but also find someone who will listen to your presentation and follow-up with questions.

#7 – Focus on making a connection.
Seek to build trust. Make eye contact. Relax. Just plan on having a conversation so the real you shines through.

#8 – Don’t waste time.
A little small talk goes a long way. Get to your points early. Stay on point. Allow us to elaborate …

Whoops! We just about went against our own advice!

#9 – Call for action.
You started by determining your purpose. Now we’ve come full circle. Fulfill your mission by asking your audience to do what you set out to accomplish.

So keep these points handy. The next time you’re asked to present, review them, apply them, and you’ll be a star!

Our bigg quote today is by Philip Crosby.

“No one can remember more than three points.”

Wow, we just did nine points. Good thing our readers are three times smarter than no one!

Next time, we’ll talk about how to be rich today. Except we guess it will actually be tomorrow! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Confidence Boosters

By Bigg Success Staff
09-11-08

Life Skills

boost 

If you want to reach the heights of your career, you have to build confidence. We develop our confidence, or lack thereof, from childhood on. Every experience builds upon the next. Learn how to build upon your success and defeat destructive thought patterns so you can win the game you choose to play!

Want to be More Attractive?

People are attracted to confident people. So if you want to be a leader, you have to exude confidence. We found a great article by John Wesley on the Pick Your Brain site. He offers ten tips to build your confidence. We loved it!

Confidence Killers

We found a great resource from the greatest school on the planet – the University of Illinois. Okay, we’ll admit our bias on that one! If you don’t read the whole thing, at least check out the self-defeating thought patterns.

The Power of Doing What You Do Best

The judges of the reality show, Britain’s Got Talent, got quite a surprise when this young man showed up to sing opera. After all, when’s the last time an opera singer reached the masses? See how the audience and the judges responded to one person doing what he does best. 

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Why You Should Watch a Movie This Weekend

By Bigg Success Staff
04-15-08

Career Builders

cinema 

Here’s an important thing to think about the next time you’re preparing to give a speech. 

People will remember how they felt long after they remember what you said.

So your aim should be to stir up the feeling you desire!

When you emotionally connect with your audience, your speech will be a bigg success!

So tell a good story … from beginning to end.

A great way to learn how to tell a story is to watch great movies. That’s why you should watch a movie this weekend – to learn how to give a good speech!

But don’t just watch it – study it! And ask yourself an important question …

If you were making this movie, what would you do differently?

When you watch a movie with that in mind, you will see things in a whole different way. You’ll get an education in the art of storytelling. You’ll also start to develop your own voice, your own style of storytelling.

Then you’ll be able to move your audience to feel what you want them to feel the next time you give a speech. And that will make you memorable!

It’s time to go now … the movie’s starting!

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Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

Related posts 

9 Presentation Tips to Make You a Star

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