Don’t tell me words don’t matter

There is a popular misconception surrounding how much of a speech is down to the actual content itself, i.e. the words.

The myth surrounds the 1967 study by Professor Albert Mehrabian (UCLA) which claimed that communication is broken down as follows: Words – 7%, Body language – 38%, Tone of voice – 55%.

Here Barack Obama, in one of his greatest ever speeches which sealed Hillary Clinton’s fate in 2008, demonstrates through his own rhetoric and examples of others that words do, indeed, matter.

If words didn’t matter, we wouldn’t be able to have a converstaion in the dark, hardly anyone would listen to the radio and William Shakespeare would have given Mark Anthony the line ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your eyes’!

The words you choose in any delivery are by far and away the most important aspect of your speech or presentation. They are the core of what you say they are the means by which you inpsire and engage and they are the the musical notes which you play in your delivery.

Obama uses rhetoric effortlessly (tricolon, anaphora, repitition to name but three rhetorical devices on display here) and does so with an eye to the pace, pitch and pause in his delivery.

Get the words right and combine them with the right tone and delivey, both physical and vocal, and that’s when you will speak effectively, effortlessly and engagingly.