Recently, Cicely and I attended a fantastic assertiveness skills training course run by M Training, in which we learnt how to, well, assert ourselves. Starting with the ins and outs of assertive behaviour, and determining what could be considered passive, aggressive and assertive, we also discussed why people behave differently and all of the psychology behind this. Before moving onto some great assertiveness techniques which included ‘saying no constructively’ and ‘consequential assertiveness’, we also looked at the importance of face-to-face communication, and how there’s more to it than just the words we say. According to Albert Mehrabian of the University of California, communication is mainly made up of 3 things: 7% words (the actual language you use), 38% tone of voice (e.g. speed, volume and modulation) and 55% body language (e.g. posture, gestures and facial expressions). This got me thinking. Content is more than just the words we write. It’s more than the T.O.V. too. What you convey and how your audience interprets your blog pieces, social media posts and website content is one thing, and how they respond to it is another. Therefore, with some great theory behind it, in this blog post, I’d like to share some great insights into the importance of words, T.O.V. and body language in the world of communication, and how this relates to your content marketing.
Words, Communication & Content
When it comes to your words, there are lots of great tips to help you to get your point across more succinctly, to give it a better chance of carrying weight, and be listened to.
1) Keeping It Simple:
- Consider the one main area that you want your listeners to remember.
- Ensure you don’t over-complicate things.
- As people generally can’t remember a lot of information on a topic at any given time, don’t present irrelevant information that does not relate to the main area you’re discussing.
2) Explain and Provide Examples Where Possible:
- Express your point in different words to help explain it.
- Using examples to help highlight your point, and to back it up.
3) Using Clear Direct Words:
- Use language that can be easily understood.
- Do not talk over your listeners’ heads.
4) Respect Your Listeners:
- Keep your listeners’ interests in mind.
- Be polite throughout your communication.
5) Repeat Your Main Idea:
- Before you finish your message, repeat your main idea.
- Repeating your main idea will emphasise it and help your listeners to remember it.
6) Check For Understanding:
This relates well to the words you write too. For content marketing to work (i.e. to turn your audience members into customers), you need to ensure the content you write has direction and focus, and comprises information that they can relate to. Using real-world examples – whether that’s testimonials, case studies or news stories can emphasise your knowledge, credibility and trustworthiness, and highlight why your product, service, brand and/or company is worth their attention. Using terminology your audience can understand is also important, as is keeping their interests in mind: what kinds of content will benefit them?; what type of content will they want to engage with and respond to?; what will make them take note next time you release a new campaign? By ‘respecting your listeners’ and ‘checking for understanding’ (i.e. asking them, looking into trends and doing keyword research) you can easily find out. Wouldn’t you rather engage with a business who wants to engage with you?
T.O.V., Clarity & Content
As Cicely and I learnt during our training, everyone’s voice has different characteristics, and these characteristics should help us, not work against us, when we speak with other people.
Tone of Voice Assertiveness Tips Include:
- Speak at a good speed that allows people to understand clearly what you’re saying.
- Try to speak at least one or two levels slower than your normal speaking voice. The slower you speak, the better your pronunciation and clarity.
- A varied pitch makes the sound of a presentation/conversation more engaging. Too high a pitch is difficult to listen to for too long and a monotone pitch will lose the audience’s interest.
- A good volume is essential for a strong presenter.
- If you are a quiet speaker, lifting the chin can help to increase the projection of the voice.
- Pronounce your words properly; learn the words before you need to present if you have any uncertainty.
- Always try to speak with confidence – without hesitating.
- A good pause, however, will help to give important information time to reach the audience.
When it comes to written content, you may think T.O.V. isn’t quite so complex, but it kind of is. Ok, so you can’t always infer the pitch and projection the writer is trying to convey, but with the right grammatics and language you can certainly feel the passion in their words.
As with face-to-face communication, a good tone of voice:
- Fosters trust and encourages interaction.
- Humanises and differentiates your brand.
- Enhances outreach and brand perception.
Getting your point across isn’t always easy, and that’s why skilled writers are a must. I’m sure you’ve seen the funny memes about the importance of commas, and how they can truly change the meaning of a sentence. For example:
Finding the right T.O.V. is also about suitability for your industry, considering how your competitors talk and incorporating the best parts of their T.O.V. to produce something ultimately better, and that your audience can identify with. Projecting that into the world with passion and gusto, you can get clients and customers on board with your aims and goals.
Body Language & Content
As stated above, body language makes up 55% of how we interpret communication. Being aware of how you send your messages may help to ensure they are received the way you intended them. Body language still affects the way your messages come across.
Top Body Language Tips To Enhance Your Communication
- Someone sitting forward, looking intently at the speaker is likely very interested in what is being said.
- ‘Closed’ body postures – arms folded across the chest and shoulders for example – suggest a defensive or threatened attitude, whereas ‘Open’ postures – leaning back in your chair for example – suggests confidence.
2) Head Movements:
- Nodding and shaking can suggest agreement and understanding, or disagreement and disbelief.
3) Facial Expressions:
- Facial expressions are a clear indicator of feelings, so it’s important not to send conflicting messages. When this happens, we tend to believe the facial expression and not the words.
4) Eye Contact:
- Perhaps the most powerful form of non-verbal communication, using eye contact suggests you are interested in the conversation and that you are paying attention.
So how exactly does body language relate to content I hear you ask. Well firstly, how people interpret what you say, I reckon, comes down, at least in part, to the medium in which it is presented on. For example, if you’re promoting a new product, this could be done in various ways:
- A dedicated product page with in depth information, images and demonstrations.
- Blog posts that highlight their key features and benefits, and how you, as a brand, add to the product offering.
- A social media campaign that offers discounts for the first 100 people who purchase the product.
The information you provide across these 3 will differ, and how people interpret what you say will be based on what you put out there. You can condense pages of information into Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts to engage them in the first place, providing more information on the blogs and pages you lead them too. Similarly, by determining how your audience may use the product and through providing like-minded content, you are almost nodding your head in agreement. You’ve understood their needs, and showed them a way in which you can meet them. Ensuring consistency between your words, message and tone, whatever the medium, is your facial expression, and keeping your eyes and ears open for what’s on the horizon, and how your audience is feeling – is your eye contact.
Engagement, whether that’s likes, shares, leads or conversions, is like your audience nodding their heads too.
Overall, being assertive is an important skill that all managers need to provide clear, concise points, and to deal effectively with tough situations. The implications for content are also imperative to its success, and can aid understanding and uptake. Content that is clear, well-written, shows consistency and provides valuable information can really hit home, making your points more valid in their eyes. If you’d like help creating such fantastic content, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today on 0161 327 2635.