Ever feel like you’re drowning in words? Emails? IMs? Endless circular debates in meetings? Use nonverbal communication to say more with less.
I’m reading a book called Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less which, ironically, uses an astounding number of words to say, “Use fewer words.” My friend recommended it to me, probably because I am a wordy writer. Why use 7 words when 149 will do? (I’m working on it. I promise.)
The authors are right though: When you have something important to say, make it as clear, direct, and easily digestible as possible. No one has the time or attention span to wade through meaningless jargon, endless caveats, or a bunch of extraneous details.
Why do we dump so much unnecessary communication on each other? There are many possible reasons, which I will refrain from listing in order to be concise. (I told you, I’m working on it!) This is the one issue I can help you with though: You try to make words do the work of nonverbal communication.
Here are five messages that are better “said” nonverbally:
The more important the message, the more words you use. I get it. But that just dilutes what you have to say. You lose your audience with overlong explanations and repetitions; then they miss out on what they need to hear.
Instead, highlight your main point and give your audience space to digest it. In writing, you highlight with larger fonts, boldface, or color; you give space by chunking the content into sections, using bullets, or shortening paragraphs — i.e., more white space!
You can do that when you’re speaking, too.
· To highlight: Vary your voice speed and volume, gesture, and pause before your point.
· To give space: Keep your body still, breathe, and pause after your point.
If you want people to take you seriously, communicate confidence. Numerous nonverbal skills can accomplish this, but they all come down to one thing: Are you willing to be seen? Stop hiding, stop shrinking, stop murmuring and muttering. Use space and time and volume; accept the attention they bring. For others to believe you matter, you first…