You’re a job applicant. You may perceive yourself as uniquely qualified for the position with an impressive resume in hand. But after an interview with the recruiter, you fail to receive a job offer. Or you’re a company executive trying to land a new client. Your company has the staff, tools, and resources to be a successful candidate, but you fail to seal the deal. Or you are on a first date. You are reasonably attractive with a good job and other admirable qualities. But the date goes nowhere.
What we may have here is a failure to communicate. Whether it be the job market, business environment, or the dating scene, it’s highly competitive out there, and one needs to maximize all the tools at their disposal to succeed. Bill Moller, an award-winning broadcaster journalist, a professor at Principia and Columbia College in Chicago, and president of Bill Moller Communications, recently visited with Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner to share his insights about the crucial role communication plays.
In part one of our interview, Moller reflects on what it takes to be a good communicator.
Watch yourself (and listen, too)
“I had an audition tape. I looked at it some years ago and I was rather appalled at what I thought had been examples of my best work. I was bland, flat. I was trying to be serious news guy without a lot of passion in my voice. It was not who I was, it was what I thought I was supposed to be in the context of news. It slapped me awake and I started to really evaluate myself. I went through a self-directed process to bring out my own natural style of communicating.”
We are not good judges of how we come across to other
“When you hear yourself recorded, whether it’s audio or video, what do you do? You cringe. You say, ‘I don’t sound or look that way,’ and then everybody else watching and listening says, ‘Yes, you do.’ Recording (helps you to) rewire your thinking so you become more self-aware. I use that exercise of recording students and playing it back, pointing out things they are not doing correctly; perhaps a little tick or gesture, or word they were saying repeatedly, or they were flat, bland with no expressive qualities in the face. I worked on that so they could become self-critical.”
Train your brain to think on your feet
“A lot of people can’t string together words and sentences in a coherent, fluid way. They have halting speech patterns and fill out (their sentences) with word trash such as ‘um’ and ‘well,’ nonsense that fills the airspace while they’re getting their mind in gear. I recommend standing up and in a narrative structure to for about two minutes about (any topic you choose). Make (your listener) care about horror movies, or paper clips or the color green. It’s very intense. You have to be focused. But it helps to be able to develop themselves in ways so they would have confidence in their ability to speak with conviction and authority.”
Words aren’t everything
"Most meaning we derive from conversation is from the subtext, from non-verbal communication. Albert Mehrabian came up with the ‘7-38-55 rule, meaning that the impressions you leave with people are based on three things. Seven percent is derived from the words we use. That ain’t much. Thirty-eight percent is how we convey those words; am I speaking in a bland non-stop way without any kind of feeling, or am I putting in pauses and using inflection to have impact? And 55 percent of impressions we leave with people, for good or ill, come from body language."
Enlist your spouse/partner
“If we get used to using the expressive qualities of the body and the voice, then we are going to have a more positive impact. People will want to do business with us, they will have a higher trust factor toward us we’ll be ultimately happier. This has to do with every encounter we have professional or personal. But it’s a process. You have to go through exercises, you have to record yourself, you have to enlist your spouse to say, ‘I want to change my default way of how I come across. If I start talking in my old way, if I’m not smiling enough, if going around with my usual sourpuss expression, I want you to snap me out of it.’ That’s part of the process we need to go through to improve.”
Importance of being able to present well in a public context
If you’re going to a recruiter and maybe you’re mediocre on your resume, your job experience is not quite all what they’re looking for, or your references aren’t all that strong. But in a one-to-one situation (where) you’re sitting there with confidence with your shoulders back a little bit, and you’re smiling and you feel relaxed, maybe a little sense of humor is being added in, and you’re speaking with great impact, having empathy, not always talking and selling yourself, but listening, then the recruiter is going to go back to the team and say, ‘There’s something about this guy. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think he would be a great asset to the team.”