When you have an important communication, do you focus mostly on your content? Are your words your message? No doubt, you have to be clear about the content of your communication. But, the most powerful underpinning to any presentation or dialogue is that:
You Are The Message!
I learned this powerful concept twenty years ago. A young and prominent partner in the firm, hearing my anxiety about the content of my message to the partner group, said “Mary, we want to hear what you have to say–you are the message!” The next day he gave me Roger Ailes’ tape of his book entitled You Are The Message (read a summary here).
The basic concept is that your audience are most affected by you while you speak. Research shows that interpretation of message is based 55% on nonverbal, 38% on vocal quality, and only 7% on the words spoken. My favorite advice includes:
- Be your self, there is no perfect communication style.
- Get comfortable with yourself, others will follow your comfort or discomfort.
- You have control over some things: timing, body movement, eye contact, and vocal pitch, tone, etc.
I always recommend “mirror work” to clients. Feel how you look in a comfortable “really you” look. You can also record your communication (now easily on your phone) to hear how you sound. Listen to your voice, taking control of your tone and timing. Have your content come alive in both.
This week, anticipate a communication that is important (casual or formal) and prepare as if you are the message.