I listened to the LetsDoVideo.com podcast featuring Simon Dudley this morning and the discussion of the relative importance of the non-verbal communication caught my attention. I’ve just begun enabling technology for a woman who does trial preparation of witnesses and attorneys for trial. In that context, it’s all about credibility and her observations and training were fantastic. She used me not only as a technology facilitator but also as a vocal coach. (When I’m not writing articles for Let’s Do Video, or consulting, or shooting video, I teach private piano and voice lessons, direct choruses and generally make the world a more musical place.)
The point of all this for me – the discussion in the podcast and my work with my colleague – is that when non-verbals play a part in communication (when video’s involved) people should really be much more aware of their own non-verbal communication than they currently are.
It reminds me of a high-level video call to Hawaii which I made for my bosses while I worked at Texas A&M University. On the morning of the call a box arrived at the office with Kona Coffee, Macadamia nut candy and some flowery leis – gifts and meeting materials for my bosses.
When the connection was made, I was watching from the control room. The bosses thanked the Hawaii folks for the gifts which were all laid out on the table in front of them where the camera and the Hawaiians could see them. The coffee and candy were there, but ALSO the leis were there instead of being worn around the necks of Boss 1 and Boss 2. Granted, Texan men aren’t too crazy about putting flowers on themselves, but as I looked at the scene through the camera’s eye, the clear message was, “Thanks for the flowers. We don’t do that in Texas.” It came off as a bit ungracious, and maybe a little rude. I was concerned that the message was being sent loud and clear across the 3800 miles that separated the gift givers from us. After a couple minutes, I decided to act. I went into the meeting room and suggested that they wear the leis. They did and all went well.
Non-verbals are not only about how your body is and moves, it’s also about how you interact with your environment.
My bosses learned their lesson. A week later when I made a connection for them to a Russian ballet school, the box arrived the morning of the connection with gifts and materials. The bosses showed up wearing the tutus. It was cute.