The words you use matter a lot!

Sep 09, 2016

We all know the widely quoted public speaking statistics (7% words, 38% tone, 55% body language) describing which elements of a person’s presentation are the most impactful. But what does this actually mean? Surely the words themselves are worth more than 7% or else people won’t understand the ‘content’ behind what you are ‘implying’.

Indecently, I am told by a good friend of mine who is a brilliant public speaking coach that there is some debate about those 45-year-old statistics anyway. But my purpose here is to consider the sense, not argue the science, of positive communication.

quality written business communications

Considering the sense, not arguing the science…

Who am I to argue against such well-established, scientifically proven (apparently) conclusions as stated above? And as I mentioned before, that debate is not my intention. What I do know to be factual, regardless of ‘how’ you put across what you are saying, is that what people ‘perceive’ is far more powerful than what you actually ‘meant’. Whether you are communicating in person, by the written word, through a webinar or on the telephone people will make assumptions about what you are really saying (and mean).

Having started my working life in retail, I spent a lot of time face-to-face with customers listening to their needs and then nudging them towards the store’s most appropriate solution. This engaged words, tone and body language. After that, I moved into telesales (existing B2B customers, not cold-calling) which put more emphasis on words and tone although, oddly enough, body language was still incredibly important. (Some of the most successful telesales guys I ever saw perform made calls standing or pacing up and down in front of their desks.)

These pursuits, along with my subsequent roles in field sales, training and coaching, all taught me the same thing…

It doesn’t matter what you say!

Actually, it does matter. It matters a lot (far more than 7% I believe), but only if you get the rest of your communication (tone, body language, attitude and intent) correct first. No one needs to be an expert in body language to know what someone else is thinking, if they are listening to you or if you are being understood. We are (most people are at least) designed to read the signs. Call it intuition, a sixth sense or perception, this skill is built into all of us. Some are better or more practised than others, but I believe that all we need to do is open our eyes and ears a little more to see it.

My point is this. Real communication is not what you intended to say, but what the receiver perceives from what you said. So, to increase your chances of clarity, influence and sharing knowledge stop thinking ‘what shall I say?’ and start thinking ‘how will this come across?’ or ‘what will they see, hear and think?’

I promise you that a different approach will create a different result!

Words are the most powerful media of all…

Today I make my living (and enjoy indulging my time) in the written word. I believe (despite the Google-led move towards video) that the most powerful (even if it is not currently the most popular) form of communication is writing. Done well it can still deliver tone, stimulate a sense of posture, and maximise the power of your words through wonderful stories, subliminal suggestions and beautiful prose.

Category: Storytelling

About The Author

Martin Gladish

Specialist business ghost blogger and business book ghost writer...