Non-Verbal Communication : Dynamic Speaking

The majority of all communication (some estimate up to 80% or more) is made up of non-verbal communication. That's a little scary, because even if your mouth doesn't say anything, you are still communicating!

An effective and dynamic speaking is someone who can control non-verbal communication. Here are some quick points to remember:

  • if your non-verbal communication and verbal communication contradict each other, then your audience will trust your non-verbal communication (example: if you say "I'm happy" in a sad voice, people will think you are sad, not happy)
  • if people are suspicious about your non-verbal communication, they won't trust you (example: if you don't look at people when you speak to them, or seem very nervous, it seems like you are hiding something)

Speaker Credibility

Speaker credibility is a measure of how much your audience trusts you. This is determined by

  • Expertise - how much you know your subject and the information you have
  • Character - your personal character, are you someone who can be trusted
  • Dynamism - active and energetic, sincere

Expertise is something you can work on by studying and doing research. Character is something you will take your whole life to build. But Dynamism is something you can develop by practice.

The 3 Rules of Dynamism

To be a dynamic speaker, you must

  • Change - have variety in your speaking style
  • Change for a reason - change to emphasize something or to attract attention
  • Stay Natural - even when you change, change within your natural range. Don't act strange

So to be a dynamic speaker, you must change the elements of non-verbal communication as you give your speech. Everytime you change, you are trying to emphasize something or attract attention (for example, pause before your main point to create suspense, use gestures to draw audience attention). But remember, even when you change, you must be natural. Change within your natural speaking range - don't shout or speak strangely!

These rules are how we speak when are comfortable, for example when you are speaking with your friends, you change your tone, use gestures and have eye-contact. We don't do them only when we are nervous.

7 Elements of Non-Verbal Communication

  1. Loudness of Voice
    * There is no perfect loudness, but ensure you speak loud enough for everyone in the room to hear you. Don't be afraid to speak loudly, but don't shout!
    * Change your tone to emphasize ideas. Speak softer to show suspense or sadness, louder to show energy, passion or anger.
  2. Speed of Speaking
    * There is no perfect speaking speed, but speak at the speech which you think people will understand you. If you speak too quickly, people won't understand you and also might think you are very nervous. But if you speak too slowly, people will go to sleep. Keep changing your pace of speech
    * Speak quickly to show excitement and energy, slowly for drama and suspense. If you are saying things that are not so important (for example, quick details or things that are also on a visual aid), you can speak a little quickly. But if you are saying something that is very important, that you want people to write down, you should speak slower and with emphasis.
  3. Gestures
    * We use gestures very naturally when we talk to one another. When we are speaking in public, we should use the same gestures we use when speaking to our friends, except that you need to be a bit more energetic and keep your hands above your waist (so people can see them!)
    * Use your natural "gesture vocabulary", which is a list of hand-signals that we use to show different ideas (for example, how do you show "bigger" or "more"?)
  4. Eye-Contact
    * Eye contact is very important to ensure your audience is paying attention. If you don't look at them, they won't look at you. Scan your audience; try to look at everyone - left to right, far and near.
    * Also, if you don't look at your audience, they might not trust you. It is harder to trust someone who refuses to look at them.
    * Looking at your audience also helps you measure how they are reacting to your speech - if they believe what you are saying or if they are paying attention. Based on that, you can dynamically make changes to your speech (for example, spend a little longer on one part of your speech that they do not seem persuaded, or move around more if they seem like they are losing attention)
  5. Facial Features
    * Your face is an amazing communicator - just by looking at someone you can tell if they are happy, sad, bored, interested, nervous etc. Use that to your advantage by smiling alot, and showing what you feel through your face. It's a great way to hide your nervousness - just smile! :)
    * The face is also reflective. If you smile at someone, it is very likely that they will smile back at you. The same applied for other emotions.
  6. Movement
    * Moving around the stage or speaking area shows the audience that you are confident. It also helps increase the audience attention because there is more activity in front of them.
    * Move smoothly and gracefully - glide across the floor. Don't run!
  7. Body Posture
    * A confident body posture will send a message of strength and sincerity. Don't lean on the podium when you are speaking, because this shows that you are weak. (leaning on the podium also doesn't allow you to use gestures).