Bert Decker is the founder and president of Decker Communications, a San Francisco-based communications training company. He has served as a media consultant for dozens of politicians including Robert Kennedy and Ed Muskie. His company trains over 10,000 professionals and executives each year, for corporate clients that include Lockeed, AT&T, Citibank and various others. Decker has been featured on ABC's 20/20" and in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Success, and Fortune. Bert is the author of several Nightingale-Conant programs including"High Impact Communication" and "How To Speak With Confidence".
|Four Steps to Communicating With Impact
Everyone wants to be significant, important and to make an impact with other people when they speak. Here is Bert Decker with four key ideas you can use to make a greater impression on others in every situation.
The four critical skill areas that involve energy and visual impact are good eye communication, tall posture with varied movement, animated gestures and facial express, and using your voice energetically, but with pauses.
Let's take eye communication first. I find that the number one communication skill to be aware of and to work on for almost everyone is eye communication. The reason is two fold. First there's the physical side. The eyes connect you directly with those to whom you are talking. The eyes are the only sensory organ you have that have brain cells as part of their makeup. And eyes are critical for both one-one-one, and face-to-face, and large audience communications.
The second reason it's the number one skill is that no one knows how their eye communications are being received, except through video feedback. You just can't see what your eyes are doing while you are talking. A mirror doesn't work, and what people tell you doesn't work either.
We are so unaware of whether we have eye-dart, or slow-blink, or whether we look at people as if we are staring, or whether we maybe never look anyone in the eyes. Your behavioral objective for eye communication is to look sincerely and steadily at another person.
The second primary skill of behavior is posture and movement. How do you hold yourself? Do you lean back on one hip when you are talking in a small group? Do you cross your legs when you are standing and chattering informally? Is your upper body posture erect, or do you slouch?
And when you speak formally, do you plant yourself behind a lectern or table? Do you move around when talking informally?
The behavioral objective for posture and movement is to learn to stand tall and move naturally and easily. You must be able to correct the general tendency to slump in both upper and lower body posture. When communicating it is more effective to be fluid rather than locked into rigid positions. That's the way we are naturally. This applies to gestures, but particularly leg and foot movements.
The third primary skill of behavior is gestures, and facial expressions. The behavioral objective for gestures and facial expressions is to learn to gesture and smile naturally when you communicate. To be effective at interpersonal communication you should have your hands and your arms relaxed at your sides when you are at rest, and gesture naturally when you are animated and enthusiastic. You should learn to smile under pressure, in the same way you would with a natural smile when you are comfortable.
Now, here are two things you can do immediately to be a more effective communicator.
First, practice better eye communication with each person. Whenever you speak with others, look steadily and sincerely into their faces and pay close attention.
Second, stand tall in every conversation. Imagine your head is dangling from a string so keep your head up and your shoulders back. This dramatically increases the impact of your words.
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