"You are the Message"
A Summary and Critique of an Article by Lynn Pearl
published in Agri Marketing, October 1992
Introduction: After a short introduction, the author gives us her definition of nonverbal communication. It is "how you say what you say, as well as what you look like saying it." She says that the nonverbal aspect is important because 90% of our communication with others is nonverbal, the what you say part makes up only a very small percentage. She then lists the major areas of nonverbal communication as a preview of what will follow in the article.
Eye contact: According to Ms. Pearl, this is the most important nonverbal technique. A speaker should gaze around the room, pausing briefly on individuals in the audience. Avoid reading from your paperwork; if you are, you can't be looking at the audience.
Gestures: The most important thing here is to gesture naturally. Keep arms and hands open, don't clench your fists or keep your arms glued to your sides. Four gestures definitely to be avoided are:
The Fig Leaf and Reverse Fig Leaf - clasping your hands, either in front or in back of you, makes you look insecure
Twisty Wristy - gestures which come from the elbows rather than the wrists appear more confident.
The Sister Mary - avoid leaning on the lectern.
The General Patton - avoid standing with hands on hips and feet spread apart.
Dress: What you wear sends a powerful message. Ms. Pearl gives what she feels are the best colors to wear and a few guidelines for women. A speaker should remember to dress appropriately for the audience and to dress simply.
Posture: Good posture and standing up straight makes you look and feel more confident.
Movement: Your movements should be purposeful and with confidence and energy.
Facial Expression: Of course, the best advice is to smile.
Five vocal keys:
Pitch - not high-pitched, this affects believability.
Pacing and passion - a voice that varies in speed; slowing down and speeding up, is more pleasing to the listeners.
Projection - make sure everyone in the audience can hear you clearly.
Pronunciation - every word must be pronounced correctly to achieve credibility.
Conclusion: Ms. Pearl reminds the reader to keep these guidelines for nonverbal communication in mind when speaking in front of an audience. Because how you present yourself is very important, "you, the messenger, are the message."
Purpose: The purpose of Ms. Pearl's article is to make the reader aware of the nonverbal signals they are sending and what are desirable ones to be sending when speaking in front of an audience.
Audience: The intended audience of the article is anyone giving an oral presentation.
Connection: The article has good coherence. After a short introduction, the author gives a preview of the important points to follow. In the summary, she restates her premise from the first paragraph, that nonverbal communication is extremely important because it makes up 90% of our communication process.
Design: The article is easy to read, with good use of white space. The various main points are chunked and preceded with bold section headings. A few graphics are used, including a cartoon-like drawing of a speaker, and text balloons that emphasize the major ideas.
Overall the article was very general, but the author does a good job of increasing the reader's understanding of the various aspects of nonverbal communication and their importance in oral presentations.
October 9, 1998