Wordless Communications Excellence

Wild 056

Beyond Word Choice

Crowd-sourcing involves analyzing the opinions of a large number of people. In some instances it has been shown to be more accurate, than expert opinion even if the crowd is largely uninformed.

One example was predicting when a new airliner would be completed – crowd-sourced answers from the general public centered around a date that was close to the eventual release date. Estimates by company officials and engineers from other aircraft manufacturers missed the date by a much larger margin.*

A crowd-sourced “5 Secrets of a Successful TED Talk”** compares a speech that is viewed 20 million times compared to one viewed half a million times. Some factors that favor increased viewing are similar to skills we practice completing TM’s Competent Communicator program. The results help explain how speakers can excel in spite of their accent.

First, it’s less about what is said, and more about how it is said.  This reinforces studies that show 60% to 90% of effective communication is non-verbal.

Next, and related, the more hand gestures the better. “Let your hands do the talking,” with wide, wide gestures. Exaggerated facial expressions help, too – see number four, below.

Vocal variety is critical,” for both TED talks and for higher teacher evaluations by students. The implication is that voice control is more important than word choice for communicating with impact.

Six of the eight competitors at Founders District International Speech competition in 2014 discussed their speech coach’s advice backstage before the competition; three of the six admitted to relying more on their voice coach than their speech coach. One of those three competed in the International Finals later in the year. This study suggests that the professional and high-level competitive speakers are on the right track getting professional voice help.

Fourth, smiling makes the speaker look smarter – this is a result that we’ll see used a lot this year. The politicians will be smiling wisely whether they understand the question or not.


You have seven seconds” to influence the audience, to convince them to listen to what you have to say.

“Researcher, Nalini Ambady calls this ‘thin-slicing.’ She says that for efficiency purposes, the brain makes very quick judgments of people within the first few seconds of meeting them. Typically, this happens before any words are exchanged. So yes, think about your opening line, but also think about how you take the stage, how you acknowledge the audience and how you deliver your first line.”

Strong opening, wide hand gestures, vocal variety – sounds a lot like the Competent Communicator projects, doesn’t it? Works for TED speakers and works for Competent Communicators.


* http://www.amazon.com/The-Wisdom-Crowds-James-Surowiecki/dp/0385721706

** http://www.scienceofpeople.com/2015/03/secrets-of-a-successful-ted-talk/



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