"I just get home and then I leave again." That's one of the lines in Diana Krall's song, Departure Bay. I guess that's the story of her life. In recent months, it's the story of mine. I just got back from Washington, DC, and I'm heading off to the UK tonight. The turnaround was shortened because of a thunderstorm that closed Dulles Airport on the eve of the Canada Day/Fourth Of July weekend. I know it's not very fashionable to say nice things about airlines, but the people at Air Canada were helpful and creative - and up to the challenge of getting me moving again.
So back to the music. Though not in Diana's league, I'm heading out tonight for a few weeks of singing in Italy. Folks think that's a bit of a switch from the DC communication conference and its focus on business communication. I don't see it that way. It's ALL communication. When you work on a song, the words are important - yet they're not the whole story. Movement, inflection, pacing, volume, pauses, rhythm all add to the context and help the audience understand the story.
These elements of non-verbal communication are critical in expressing the meaning of your communication. Studies dating back to the 1960s research of Dr. Albert Mehrabian suggest that, particularly when there is an emotional component to the communication, just 7% of a message is conveyed by our words. Tone accounts for 38%. Body language fills in the other 55%.
This is shocking news. If we think about anything in our spoken communication - and that's not a given - we'll give thought to our words. The rest just happens.
In the music workshops I'm attending, we spend a lot of energy and time thinking about the 93% of communication that is beyond words. We dig into our emotions - joys, fears, anger, sadness - to mine the nuggets of feeling that will make our characters and our stories come alive in our songs so we can really touch the audience.
As communicators outside the world of music, these techniques help us be better understood, be better at influencing others, and be conveyors of the whole story.
It's likely to be three weeks before I'm near a computer again. I'll have lots of thoughts on my return. In the mean time - the homework is awareness. What IS your body language saying. What DOES your tone convey?
Cheers - Sue