Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

10.16.13Apparently There’s Something Called “Communications Analytics,” and it’s Really Useful

conversationThe Wall Street Journal has an occasional feature called work and family mailbox.  A question today from a wheelchair-bound reader about how to project more dynamism and confidence at social events provoked a fascinating response that seems eminently useful for teachers.  Here’s the exchange with some itals for emphasis and further comments from me in bold.
Q: I’ve been handicapped for years, but just started using a wheelchair. Your article on how striking a power pose can help one feel and perform better struck a chord. Being seated feels submissive to me, especially if others are standing at a social event. Any suggestions?—J.L., Brighton, Mich.

A: Separating a handicap from self-image can be a challenge for many people with disabilities. But many tools for conveying an image of confidence and authority are still within your reach, says Noah Zandan, president of Quantified Impressions, an Austin, Texas, communications analytics company.

Nonverbal signals, including eye contact and posture, account for 55% of listeners’ ratings of a speaker’s effectiveness, Mr. Zandan says. Make a conscious effort to make direct eye contact with listeners, ideally for 60% to 70% of the time, he says. Roll your shoulders back, open your chest area and straighten your spine. These techniques will help you “maintain control, authority and a positive presence,” Mr. Zandan says.

Ok, I did not know there was a thing called communications analytics but I will be reading more about it- the overlap between Zandan’s guidance and Strong Voice and 100% is obviously large but it also goes beyond what’s in the book and captures a lot of what people intuit in workshops–about eye contact and posture and “rolling your shoulders back.”  I’ve never seen these things quantified before, though and the geek in me is at war with the skeptic.  Still given the sensible practical advice, I might indulge my inner-geek a bit more.

Conveying a high level of energy also can help engage others, says Kelly Decker, president of Decker Communications, a San Francisco training and consulting firm. Keep your arms open in front of you, rather than clamped together or crossed, and “go big” with gestures as you speak, she says.

Project your voice more than others, to have as much impact as if you were standing face-to-face. And smile at every natural opportunity, Ms. Decker suggests, since “lightness draws people in.” Also, engage others by asking questions and showing interest. Your disability will quickly be forgotten as others begin to focus on “what you say, and how you act,” Ms. Decker says.

One of the other things people intuit during our workshops is the power of a genuine and relaxed smile.  In fact they even use the term “light” which Decker uses here…. people sometimes say that practicing positive but clear corrections helps them to see how to “teach from the light.”  Anyway, hugely useful, eminently practical stuff.  Anyone read anything more from this field?

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