Saturday, July 14, 2012

Non-Verbal it helping or hurting your communication?

Great article by Gary Genard- I really enjoy observing non-verbal communication and how it impacts a message… negatively or positively. As an expert in conflict resolution and having worked as a Correctional Officer in jails, and as a mediator facilitating the resolution of hundreds of complex conflicts, studying non-verbal communication was important. When I worked in the jails, most of the communication that was most important between inmates (e.g. a riot, a planned escape, etc.), happened through non-verbal communication. Learning this kept me safe…well some of the time anyhow.

Non-verbal communication impacts how messages are understood. People draw many assumptions about the meaning of non-verbal communication which often leads to misunderstandings.

In Genards’ article he talks about the importance of non-verbal communication for speakers and presenters, I believe his perspectives are equally as important for anyone in the role of presenting information to others, which includes leaders, supervisors and those involved in selling products or services. He urged readers to ensure they do the following in their presentations:

1. Avoid split focus

2. Ensure a balanced stance and body language

3. Keep your body language open and easily understood (minimize risk for confusing messages and definitely avoid the “fig leaf”)

4. Don’t pace around the stage or room (Genard called this the tiger in the cage movement), instead, move with a sense of purpose.

Check out his article here:

Next time you are in front of a group of colleagues, making a presentation to your board, pitching an idea at staff meeting, or on the stage speaking to an audience, pay special attention to your non-verbal language. Are you conveying the message you want others to remember? Is your verbal communication consistent with your non-verbal language?

Here are few tips to help you improve your non-verbal communication:

- Practice in front of a mirror

- Practice in front of a small audience you trust, and ask for specific feedback. Note: “that was awesome”, “well done”, or “good job” is not clear. Ask them to identify how your non-verbal language helped or hindered your message and why.

- Best tip: video tape yourself…. The camera never lies.


  1. Charmaine,

    Thanks for sharing. I would love to hear more about number 1, the split focus.

    Can you tell me more about key ways to avoid that.

    I have been presenting and training for a very long time and am always looking at improving.



  2. thank you for sharing the tips on non-verbal communication. I am writing a paper for school. I would like to add the pie chart image and give credit to you or whomever created the image as well as get more information on where the data came from. Thank you for any help you can provide me.


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