|8： Non-Verbal Communication in a Speech|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2003/11/16 18:07 中图读者俱乐部|
Visualize yourself in this situation: you are giving a presentation to a customer group. In the room there are about ten people, not including yourself. Sitting at the head of a long conference table is the senior member of the group. She is the decision maker. You begin your presentation and you focus your attention on the boss. After all, she’s the one you have to convince, right?
As you proceed, you notice that the boss is paying close attention. She is watching you and occasionally, you see her nod her head at you and indicate that you have made a good point.
You think to yourself:“Hot dog! The boss is on my side!”
As you continue your presentation, you say something that seems to bother the person sitting mid-table, a few seats down to the left of the boss. This guy is in clear view of the boss at all times. The person reacts, but does not say anything. You don’t notice his reaction because you are so mesmerized by the fact that the boss agrees with you that you can’t take your eyes off her.
You finish your presentation with a flourish and say:“Well, what do you think?”(You secretly giggle to yourself because you already know the answer. You are going to get the deal and you’re already planning the celebration!)
In a split second the boss glances over at our friend at mid-table. He looks back at her and gives a single, slight shake of the head. She looks back at you and says:
“We really appreciate your coming to visit us this morning. We will take what you have to say under consideration and someone will get back to you. Thank you so much for joining us.”
“Now, what’s next on the agenda?”
In complete shock your wonder:“What the heck happened!?”
Here’s what happened:
You blew it!
You missed the opportunity!
They’re not going to ever call you back!
They just kissed you off!
You snatched defeat form the jaws of victory!
How could this have happened? Everything seemed to be going fine! What went wrong?
Here’s what went wrong:
You weren’t watching what was going on in the room so you missed the nonverbal dialogue.
We have learned every procedure to make a successful speech. But you still may have a number of specific questions about enhancing the effectiveness of your delivery. Typical concerns include these:“What do I do with my hands?”“Is it all right to move around while I speak?”“How can I make my voice sound interesting?”While these concerns may seem overwhelming, presenting a well-prepared and well-rehearsed speech is the best antidote to jitters about delivery. To help answer specific questions about presenting a speech, we will consider three major categories of nonverbal behavior that affect delivery: body language, eye contact, facial expression.
Gesture, movement, and posture are the three key attributes of physical delivery, or body language. Your body language will influence whether your audience sees you as credible and competent. It also helps determine whether you successfully gain and hold audience interest. A good public speaker knows how to use effective gestures and maintain an appropriate posture while speaking to an audience.
1. Functions of Gestures
If you don’t know what to do with your hands, think about the message you want to communicate. As in ordinary conversation, your hands should simply help emphasize or reinforce your verbal message. Specifically, note the following ways in which your gesture can lend strength to what you have to say: (1) repeating, (2) contradicting, (3) substituting, (4) complementing, (5) emphasizing, and (6) contradicting.
Repeating. Gestures can help you repeat your verbal message. For example, you can say,“I have three major points to talk about today,”while holding up three fingers. Or you can describe an objects as twelve inches long while holding your hands about a foot apart. Repeating what you say through nonverbal means can reinforce your message.
Contradicting. Since your audience will sooner believe what you communicate nonverbally than verbally, you need to monitor your gestures to make sure that you are not contradicting what you say. It is difficult to convey an image of control and confidence by using flailing gestures and awkward poses. You dont want to display behavior that will conflict with your intended image or message, not do you want to appear stiff and self-conscious. So the crucial thing to keep in mind while monitoring your own behavior is to stay relaxed.
Substituting. Not only can your behavior reinforce or contradict what you say, but your gestures can also substitute for your message. Without uttering a word, you can hold up the palm of your hand to calm a noisy crowd. Flashing two fingers to form a V for victory or raising a clenched fist are other common examples of how gestures can substitute for a verbal message.
Complementing. Gestures can also add further meaning to your verbal message. A politician who declines to comment on a reporter’s question while holding up her hands to augment her verbal refusal, uses her gesture to complement or provide further meaning to her verbal message.
Emphasizing. You can give emphasis to what you say by using an appropriate gesture. A shaking fist or a slicing gesture with one or both hands help emphasize a message. So does pounding your fist /into/ the palm of your hand. Other gestures can be less dramatic but still lend emphasis to what you say. You should try to allow your gestures to arise from the content of your speech and your emotions.
Regulating. Gestures can also regulate the exchange between you and your audience. If you want the audience to respond to a question, you can extend both palms to invite a response. During a question-and-answer session, your gestures can signal when you want to talk and when you want to invite others to do so.
2. Using Gestures Effectively
Turn-of-the-century elocutionists taught their students how to gesture to communicate specific emotions or messages. Today teachers of speech act differently. Rather than prescribe gestures for specific situations, they feel that it is more useful to offer suitable criteria (standards) by which to judge effective gestures, regardless of what is being said. Here are some guidelines that you can think about when working on your delivery.
Stay natural. Gestures should be relaxed, not tense or rigid. Your gestures should flow with your message. Avoid sawing or slashing through the air with your hands unless you are trying to emphasize a particularly dramatic point. The pounding fist or raised forefinger in hectoring style will not necessarily enhance the quality of your performance.
Be definite. Gestures should appear definite rather than as accidental brief jerks of your hands or arms. If you want to gesture, go ahead and gesture. Avoid minor hand movements that will be masked by the lectern.
Use gestures that are consistent with your message. Gestures should be appropriate for the verbal content of your speech. If you are excited, gesture more vigorously. But remember that predeceased gestures that do not naturally arise from what you are trying to say are likely to appear awkward and stilted.
Vary your gestures. Strive for variety and versatility in your use of gesture. Try not to use just one hand or one all-purpose gesture. Gestures can be used for a variety of purposes, such as enumerating, pointing, describing, and symbolizing an idea or concept (such as clasping your hands together to suggest agreement or a coming-together process).
Don’t overdo it. Gestures should be unobtrusive; your audience should focus not on the beauty or appropriateness of your gestures but on your message. Your purpose is to communicate a message to your audience, not to perform for your listeners in such a way that your delivery receives more attention than your message.
Coordinate gestures with what you say. Gestures should be well times to coincide with your verbal message. When you announce that you have three major points, your gesture of enumeration should occur simultaneously with your utterance of the word three. It would be poor timing to announce that you have three points, pause for a second or two, and then hold up three fingers.
Make your gestures appropriate to your audience and situation. Gestures must be adapted to the audience. In more formal speaking situations, particularly when speaking to a large audience, bolder, more sweeping, and more dramatic gestures are appropriate. A small audience in a less formal setting calls for less formal gestures.
In summary, keep one important principle in mind: Use gestures that work best for you. Don’t try to be someone that you are not. Jesse Jackson’s style may work for him, but you are not Jesse Jackson. Your gestures should fit your personality. It may be better to use no gestures - just comfortably put your hands at your side - rather than to use awkward, distracting gestures or to try to counterfeit someone else’s gestures. Your nonverbal delivery should flow from your message.
Of all of the delivery features discussed in this chapter, the most important one in a public speaking situation for North Americans is eye contact. Eye contact with your audience opens communication, makes you more believable, and keeps your audience interested. Each of these functions contributes to the success of your delivery. Eye contact also provides you with feedback about how your speech is coming across.
Most audiences in the United States prefer that you establish eye contact with them even before you open your speech with your attention-catching introduction. When it’s your time to speak, walk to the lectern (or the front of the audience if you’re not using a lectern), pause briefly, and look at your audience before you say anything. Eye contact nonverbally sends the message,“I am interested in you; tune me in; I have something I want to share with you.”You should have your opening sentence well enough in mind that you can deliver it without looking at your notes or away from your listeners.
Try to establish eye contact with the entire audience, not just with the front row or only one or two people. Look to the back and front and from side to side of your audience, selecting an individual to focus on and then moving on to someone.
Media experts today doubt that Abraham Lincoln would have survived as a politician in our appearance-conscious age of telegenic politicians. His facial expression, according to those who saw him, seemed wooden and unvaried.
Your face plays a key role in expressing your thoughts, and especially your emotions and attitudes. Your audience sees your face before they hear what you are going to say. Thus, you have an opportunity to set the emotional tone for your message before you start speaking. We are not advocating that you adopt a phony smile that looks insincere and plastered on your face, but a pleasant facial expression helps establish a positive emotional climate. Your facial expression should naturally vary to be consistent with your message. Present somber news with a more serious expression. To communicate interest in your listeners, keep your expression alert and friendly.
Although we are technically capable of producing over 250,000 different facial expressions, we most often express only three primary emotions: happiness, anger, blend of expressions rather than communicator of a single emotion. According to cross-cultural studies by social psychologist Paul Ekman, the facial expressions are able to read your emotional expressions clearly. When you rehearse your speech, note whether you are allowing your face to help communicate the emotional tone of your thoughts.
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