Have you ever browsed through a food video? Or watched a food show on TV? Chances are you have. If you think about the food they cook, the presentation is always carefully curated. After the food is made, the dish is well displayed. Then the cook goes on to taste the food and reacts with an expressive word like yummy, or an onomatopoeia like mmmm. While I am sure the food they have made is good, the way they present it adds on to the whole process. Similarly, the same logic extends to communications. In Toastmasters we have the opportunity to build on our non verbal communication skills, as much as we get to build on our verbal communication skills.
Believe it or not, your non verbal communication cues are as important as the verbal part. When you are communicating, you need to be mindful of your posture, your movements and your hand gestures. Just like eye contact is extremely important in engaging your audience with your content, your posture, stance and hand gestures are key in indicating your own interest in your content. Once you have your content in check, the next step is to ensure your presentation is in sync with your content.
Take a job interview scenario for example. If you are sitting in a slouched position and not showing your hands, regardless of whether you are the interviewer or the interviewee, your position will make you appear disinterested. Similarly, shifting back and forth in your seat and readjusting your position repeatedly will distract the person sitting across. On the contrary, if you sit with an upright position, occasionally use your hands to add on to your conversation and limit movements, you will appear confident. This stance will make both interviewers and interviewees look comfortable and at ease.
Your posture, stance and hand gestures can add on to your communications with any audience. Developing a firm posture, stance and hand gestures will show your audience you care about the conversation. Let us face it, no one wants to talk to someone who appears disinterested. Your non verbal communication cues are key in communicating interest in any communication scenario. Honing your non verbal skills can add on to your personal and professional relationships through your communication skills.
Now, the next time you browse through your social media and see a food video or scan through your TV channels and see a food show, look beyond the ingredients and the cooking. Focus on the utensils they use, the way they display their ingredients, the dish used to serve the food and the reaction they have once they taste the food. This exercise will make you realize that non verbal communication cues are as important as verbal ones. Like other communication skills, you can build on your non verbal communication skills as well. Part of building on these skills require the recognition of areas of improvement. A Toastmasters meeting is also filled with feedback on your interest level and hand gestures, which help build on your non verbal communication skills.
TM Kriti Panth
Secretary, Professionals Toastmaster Club
Area O2 CGD