How a Speaker’s Fizzyology Impacts an Audience
When I first went on the road promoting Tony Robbins’ seminars, I was introduced to research conducted by a famous UCLA professor, Albert Mehrabian, on the communication process: what made up the components of communication and the importance each played when communicating a message.
Here’s what I learned:
- How you look accounts for a whopping 55%.
- How you look includes your clothes, your facial expression, your stance, your hands, the leaning of your body, the way you move your eyes.
- Yes, your body language, facial expressions, and gestures are responsible for 55% of what you transmit. This is your physiology — or, as we choose to refer to it, “Fizzyology.” This updated spelling of “physiology” causes me to laugh and remember how important the physical body is in producing and changing emotions.
- Your physical demeanor speaks more about you than anything you could say.
All great speakers use their whole body to communicate. Use body language effectively. It helps make your presentation interesting. The key is to put your entire body and self into your presentation. Let your Fizzyology be a vehicle to express your message to your audience.
Use gestures. Your arms and your hands should be relaxed and extended in front of you. Let your arms flow with your words, and your hands will follow naturally. Remember the enemy of speaking is sameness: you need to vary your gestures and facial expressions. Yes, it’s okay to use wild gestures, just don’t do them all the time.
Avoid standing at attention, or what we like to call the “fig leaf pose.” Don’t keep your hands at your side either.
Smiling makes you appear confident, prepared, determined, and commanding. It’s a win-win. Drama is not necessary. You don’t have to be entirely theatrical to get your point across.
Smile, and have fun using your Fizzyology.
How you sound accounts for 38%.
How you sound depends more on volume and inflection than the quality of your voice.
Again, it’s an impression. Consider the lyrics to Rock-A-Bye-Baby:
“Rock-a-bye baby on the treetop.
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle, and all.”
Can you imagine the picture of a baby literally falling out of a tree while trying to sleep? Yikes! The author’s attempt to provide a soothing message fails.
It is what you say and how you say it that matters.
Growing up, we knew what it meant when my mom would yell,
“Michael Thomas Hutchison, you’d better get over here right now.”
I knew I was in trouble.
Remember the movie An Officer and a Gentleman? Do you remember the scene when the drill instructor, played by Louis Gossett Jr., welcomed the newbies? Was his voice soft or commanding when he told them what a pleasure and honor it was to have them as part of his organization?
The manner in which you say something makes a huge difference in how it is understood. Your verbal expression determines the degree of your audience’s desire to listen.
Vary your pace and speech. Make sure that your range allows you to alternate between quick, slow, and moderately paced speech. Pause occasionally for emphasis.
Vary your tonality. Changing your tonality can be very effective in creating interest and conveying meaning.
Vary your volume. Let your voice travel the entire spectrum of sound—from shouting to complete silence—to communicate more effectively.
Accentuate specific words for extra emphasis.
Consider this scenario. I meet someone for the first time and say, “Hi, my name is Michael Hutchison. It’s nice to meet you.” There is no physical contact or enthusiasm in this interaction. Then, consider a scenario with a twist. “Hi!” (My hand is extended and eye contact is accompanied by a big smile.) “My name is Michael Hutchison. It’s nice to meet you.” Same words. Big difference! What if the person I was meeting were to whisper back in a soft, sultry voice, “It’s nice to meet you.” The words are similar, but the tonality (and probably the body language too!) is entirely different, thus suggesting another mode of communication.
There’s so much information you can read from people, their gestures, posture, vocal pitch, and other nonverbal cues. If you don’t take it all into consideration, you may miss out on understanding a large portion of their communication.
What you actually say accounts for only 7%.
What if you had to deliver your presentation without any words? Silly? I don’t think so. Consider pantomime, which is acting out an entire play without uttering a word. A dear friend of mine told me about a unique sales presentation he experienced at a General Electric sales meeting. During a PowerPoint slide show set to music, the presenter held up a short stack of cue cards one by one for the audience to read. Refraining from speaking made the presentation very memorable and very effective.
The message is less important, ultimately, than how it is delivered.
Understanding the importance of how you look – your Fizzyology and sound is the first step toward speaking and presenting effectively.
You do not get in life what you want, you get in life what and who you are. You tell the world who you are when you show up and open your mouth.