The art of communication is often regarded as quite elusive and something that very few people have mastered. In fact, it is well known to inspire more fear as speaking in public is right up there with the thoughts of death. Often the question is asked whether it’s something you are born with as a natural extension of who you are or, can it be actually learned?
Within the art of conveying a message, yes it’s an art and can be learned, there are a few important elements to be aware of. The first is the pretty widely accepted Mehrabian’s 7% – 38% – 55% rule. This basically says that when you speak, your words only convey 7% of the message, while 38% is attributed to tone and 55% to body language. Often times we get so hung up on what we wish to say, we forget all about how we say it and that makes up an astounding 93%.
Therefore mastering body language becomes an opportunity, should you wish to improve the effectiveness of your message and according to Mark Bowden, in his book Winning Body Language, the positioning of your hands is key. He suggests about various positioning “Planes” which you can think of relative to the alignment of your arms / hands. By imagining you are standing in front of a group, these can be described as follows:
- Grotesque Plane – hands straight down by your side and consequently your body somewhat slouched. This suggests insecurity, lack of confidence and perhaps not a lot of belief in the message you are conveying.
- Truth Plane – your hands are placed at your navel with body more upright. This suggests confidence and believability in the message being conveyed.
- Passion Plane – this is where your hands are expressive and at chest level. Assuming you have secured the integrity of the message (truth plane), this allows you to inspire people though demonstration of your passion.
Both the Truth and Passion planes require that you stand upright which also maximizes your breathing capacity, which is critical to controlling your physical and emotional state. Consequently, it is important to consider in advance what it is your wish your audience to really hear (beyond the words) and then use the appropriate body language to go along with this.