Technological communication in the business world has exponentially advanced over the last few years. However, the development of human verbal communication and expression are somehow quite lacking.
We see a vast majority of devices that use technology to develop the connectivity of people through the use of social media. People send emails to the person sitting just 3 feet away from them. Nobody picks up the phone to speak to a colleague to ask for something or to discuss a work situation. They just send an email or text message. Nobody seems to really talk to each other anymore.
I guess the advantage is that the email or text message serves as evidence that the message was sent. But, was it really sent?
Emails and Text Messages
Over the past few years, we have seen an exponential increase in the number of emails being exchanged. One of the worst ‘enemies’ is the ‘cc.’ function in emails. With the flurry of and fury of emails being exchanged, one could easily miss reading a part of an exchange and this could result in an inaction or wrong action being committed. When that happens, someone will invariably say, “But I copied you in the email. Did you not see it?”
Don’t get me wrong, emails and text messages are really great inventions and have made communication across continents efficient, cheap and instantaneous. Emails are virtually free. All that is required is a simple Internet connection and a computer or smartphone. It was a great way to get around snail mail and letters to colleagues, friends and family members can be sent almost instantly.
With the evolution of emails, came the Short Messaging Service, a system that enabled us to send short text messages over our phones. The problem with the SMS system was that we had to pay for each message sent. With the evolution of services such as Whattsapp and WeChat, the sending of text messages quickly became virtually free as well, and that resulted in the endless stream of messages and groups. I personally receive over 200 Whattsapp messages on a daily basis. Do I read all of them? I admit that I do not and sometimes miss really important text messages.
Have we become a victim of technology? Have we lost the skill of speaking and using our voice to communicate with our fellow human beings? One would argue that that this might not be quite as important. The argument is that as long as people can understand our words, they will understand what we want.
Words versus Messages
While there is some truth to that, we need to understand that there is a really big difference between words and messages. In the coaching of my clients, one would be surprised at how many people find it difficult to tell me the difference between words and messages. I usually share with them that we use words to pass a message, but more importantly, messages carry a meaning.
To get our messages across to the other person or people, we need to understand how humans actually hear and absorb information. Once we understand this, we are then able to speak our words to get our intended message across our listeners. This will result in less misunderstandings or miscommunication situations.
The ability of verbally communicating effectively involves clear articulation of words, emphasis being place on the appropriate words, variation of pace and change in volume. Most people just say, “I want to speak fluently”. The question is, how do we do it?
The art of verbal communication is somewhat lost in our technologically advanced world. The beauty of language and the use of words have become a victim of the efficiency of technology.
Verbal Communication in Presentations
In using technology, we are often very concerned about the information that we need to put into our slides, what words should we use and what kind of special effects we should use to grab the attention of our audience. We very seldom worry about how we are going to DELIVER that information. DELIVERING and SHARING information is very different from DOWNLOADING information. One simple piece of advice is to speak WITH your audience and not TO your audience.
We need to get down to the basics of speaking well to communicate and present. Nobody goes to a presentation to see how much skill you have in the use of technology to make your presentation slides look space age. People go to a presentation to hear you speak. They want you to DELIVER the information through the effective and efficient use of your voice.
As a voice and presentation skills coach, I always make sure that my clients speak clearly and are understood. This is the secret that opens doors to endless opportunities.
About the Author
Brian Lee, Founder of Be The Voice Academy, is a leading verbal communication and presentation skills expert who is helping people become great communicators. Brian got his voice training from the celebrated London School of English and began his career in 1982 by emceeing and disc jockeying at a young age of 17. Over the past three decades, he has contributed majorly in multiple RSAF air shows and events, both locally and internationally.