Mehrabian’s study was very limited in scope—it looked only at single words, focused solely on positive or negative feelings, and didn’t include men—and yet, I see articles at least once a week touting these numbers as gospel, as if they have much broader implications than they actually do.
Had these communications “experts” taken the time to look at the original research (or simply look at Dr. As an example, I came across a video from Stanford Business Professor Deborah Gruenfeld last week. The real problem with this is that people want to take the interpretation to the extreme polar opposites. Bottom line is that your non-verbals CAN influence your message (not always WILL, but CAN). 1.Your vocal tone and body language can enhance the effectiveness of your words, make you appear more credible, and allow the audience to forge a personal connection with you. 2.The audience won’t be able to focus on your words if you’re doing something with your voice or body that distracts them. 3.If your words are saying one thing and your body is saying another (what I call a “message disconnect”), the audience will believe what your body is telling them.
When the level of camouflage is higher, the nonverbal and verbal components of communication are relatively equal.
However, when content is prepared or planned, the nonverbal cues dominate to the levels identified in earlier studies, such as Mehrabian’s. Unfortunately, you failed to identify the underlying reasons as to what causes nonverbal dominance with respect to the context of the communication (planned or unplanned). If one looks into the academic literature, and further examines the experiential data from global observers (as I have been lucky enough to be part of for many years), one would clearly see why nonverbal cues dominate in prepared speech and how the early findings of Mehrabian (and others like Nierenberg, Friedman, etc.) are substantiated in later studies that focus on causation and not just effect. Unless social science validates that only seven percent of communications occurs through words regardless of the context in which the communication occurs (and I doubt it ever will), it will remain inaccurate to make such a blanket statement without the type of nuance you added.
When I use it in my workshops, I always tell people that their words are incredibly important.
I really appreciate the humility of your response, and assure you that we’re all in good company here. Join our email list to get our 21 most essential media training tips Join the thousands of professionals who receive our email newsletter twice per month. The aim of this exercise is to get the delegates think about body language and gestures and observe how such signals can be instrumental while communicating. The activity is designed to engage everyone at all times, so each member of the group is ultimately involved in all tasks while reducing the total length of the exercise.
Use this body language exercise at the beginning of a session before covering non-verbal communication.
This exercise helps such individuals to practice slowing down their rate of speech and improve their diction.
Research shows that when you adopt a particular facial expression, such as smiling, you start to feel happy.
However, some of these hardwiring and their consequences are more subtle and a careful observation can give the observer a significant advantage in predicting the eventual behaviour.
In this article, a particularly useful body language technique is presented that helps you read people and understand what people are likely to do before they do it and to use this knowledge to your advantage. The training activity is designed to be competitive, so participants are pushed to act better.
Download a free comprehensive training package including training guidelines, soft skills training activities, assessment forms and useful training resources that you can use to enhance your courses. NEW: Cat Language!A big thank you to the Training and Behavior Dept of Oregon Humane Society for their help with cat body language information.

The remaining portion comes from your voice (38 percent) and your body language (55 percent)!
Mehrabian’s Wikipedia page, which debunks this myth), they wouldn’t have made this mistake. UPDATE: Several readers have correctly pointed out that this video goes too far in the opposite direction, prioritizing words over delivery. Those that are addressed in this video, and those who want you to believe that there is ZERO relevance to the study. When your non-verbals send a different message than your verbals, your audience can be confused, interpret an unintended message, or miss your intened message completely because they’re more focused on your awkward facial expressions or body posture. They won’t hear you if you constantly say “ummm,” fail to maintain eye contact, or look defensive.
In spontaneous conversation, each participant can alter the topic or flow at any point (a highly unpredictable setting), raising the level of camouflage.
When the intent is to increase communication clarity, the sender purposely delivers a message that has little or no camouflage. Distractions in actions (excessive movements, haphazard gestures), vocal inflections (verbal fillers, speed of speech), facial expressions, etc. It simply cannot be made as a blanket, over-arching statement covering any communications situation that occurs anywhere, anytime.
Do a quick search on line, and you’ll find hundreds of self-proclaimed experts who claim that 93 percent of body language comes from vocal cues and body language. Helping them develop sound key messages is a major part of how we spend our time — for good reason. Improve your public speaking and media interviewing skills—and enhance your career—by signing up below. The training exercise illustrates the importance of communication without using words and how much a social context or background can help us understand what is going on in a given situation. You can use it for subjects such as story making, storytelling, communication skills, acting and creative writing.
This shared experience helps delegates examine the subject from multiple angles and feel that they have contributed to all the stories developed in this exercise. The aim is to find out how much delegates already know about this topic and effectively prepare them for what is followed. The exercise also helps to practice listening skills as delegates have to pay full attention to what has been said. As soon as we see a person, we read their body language quickly to establish their mood and we can be fairly good at this.
They get butterflies in stomach, feel nervous and sometimes simply refuse to give a public presentation when they can get away with it. This also helps you to improve your communication skills as you don't have to rely primarily on what people say and can read other non-verbal signals to understand them.
This exercise helps delegates see this effect in a symbolic exercise on gestures on what is famously known as the “butterfly effect”. This will help to improve communication skills, relationships and in particular non-verbal interpersonal skills. It can accurately spot activities in the collection which are similar to the one you are currently viewing. Download our training resources and extend your portfolio to meet market demand and deliver state-of-the-art interactive training courses.
So I can only conclude that communications professionals who use this data are ignorant,  lazy, or willfully misusing this data to sound smarter than they are.

As an example, I often coach business executives who are preparing to announce a new product. Even though I couched the study accurately, there’s just too much confusion around the study for it to be useful. This allows receivers to focus less on clarity in words and more on the implied meaning behind those words (body language, intentions, etc.). I discovered my error a couple of years ago, and wrote a post in mid-2011 pledging to banish it from my presentations from that point forward.
You can vary the exercise by expecting a specific style of speech or just leave it completely uncontrolled. The exercise also helps unleashing the writing creativity of delegates so it is also ideal as an exercise in storytelling and creative writing. You can also use it in a course on public speaking to get delegates practice making stories which they can then utilise in a speech. In the process fast talking people end up mumbling a lot, shortening sentences, rounding off parts and skipping words.
The problem is that the mood of the interaction is then set from that point onwards and this can be contagious. Knowing how to read people helps you significantly in your negotiations, persuasions and overall communications. It is ideal for courses on team building, communication skills, change management, body language and leadership skills.
A shocking percentage of them say something such as, “This is very exciting” while standing motionless and speaking in a monotone.
Therefore, highly predictable body language (less distractions) allow clearly developed messages to achieve a planned objective (intention).
So my sarcasm could have been applied to myself circa 2011, and fairly so – I should have done a more serious look at what the numbers meant before parroting them without much thought. This activity will also help you understand which areas to focus on most as you go through the body language training.
This emotional contagion can then work against us as we may react with the same negative emotions even when there is no cause for it.
The problem is that fast talkers usually have a lot to say, which is why they are in a hurry to express themselves and more often than not what they want to share is actually useful.
If you are looking ahead while walking, you appear to me more energetic and determined than if you look at the ground. They need to understand the importance of how the words they say are received and believed. However, if no one understands what they have to say or if they mix it up with all sorts of irrelevant data or going off- tangent too often, then listeners get bored quickly or misunderstand them.
For example, this can help people at workplace to control their body language when interacting with colleagues and also helps them not to get affected by other people’s moods and emotions, thereby improving their relationships. Using a similar approach, this exercise aims to boost people's confidence so they can present confidently to public.
We are all too familiar with some of the common behaviours such as seeking water when thirsty or wanting to leave the meeting room when we can no longer hold it.

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Comments to Body language training resources


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