The Introduction to Verbal Communication
Effective verbal communication depends on various elements which forms the core of interpersonal communication.
Being clear, focused, and calm, remaining respectful, and following the basic rules of conduct can greatly aid the process of communicating.
This unit will allow you to consider how you communicate with your voice. It will provide information on the steps involved in communicating and steps you can follow to ensure that your verbal messages are received in the manner intended.
The structure and functions of verbal communication
Any conversation with two or more individuals can be broken down into several phases, including opening interactions, the main message, and closing.
During an interaction, the speakers might employ various methods, both conscious and unconscious, to strengthen their argument or make sure they’ve been able to understand the other person.
This includes reinforcement, questioning as well as summarizing and reflection. In many social interactions, the initial few minutes are crucial as first impressions can impact the effectiveness of any subsequent interactions.
Each person is bound by expectations and rules about how first meetings should go, and individuals tend to act following these expectations. If people’s expectations aren’t met, the communication won’t be efficient or flow smoothly and require some negotiation to continue relations.
When you first meet, formalities and appropriate greetings are generally expected. It could be greetings with a handshake, introductions with eye contact, and a discussion on a neutral topic, like the weather or your travel plans. A pleasant disposition and a smiling face are more likely to promote interaction than a blank expression or a disinterested or indifferent reception.
When you next meet someone you haven’t met before, observe the things you do together to establish a relationship.
- What you did and the effect you believed it to influence the other;
- What did they do, and what the impact it has on your feelings (either positively or negatively);
- What did you do to respond?
The use of words of encouragement and non-verbal gestures, such as head smiles, nods, warm facial expressions, and keeping eye contact, can increase openness, among others.
Encouragement and positive reinforcement may:
- Encourage other participants to take part in discussions (particularly during group work);
- Show you are interested in what other people are saying;
- Facilitate the establishment and/or maintaining of the relationship
- Assist in overcoming fears and provide confidence;
- Open and warm. Be warm and welcoming; and
- Reduce the fear of being shy or nervous within ourselves and in others.
Questioning – Important aspect of verbal communication
Effective questioning is a crucial capability in verbal communication.
The use of questioning is to:
- Get the information you need;
- Start a conversation;
- Test understanding;
- Invite someone to the conversation
- Display interest in someone as well as
- Find support or a deal.
There are two types of questions that could be utilized such as open and closed.
Answers to Closed Question
Closed questions usually require only a single or two-word answer (often just “yes” or “no”). This limits the range of the solution. Examples of closed questions include:
“Did you take a car to work today?”
“Did you watch the basketball game played on Saturday?”
These questions tend to indicate that control over the verbal communication is managed by the person asking the question. This, however, is typically not the outcome you want to achieve, especially when the question is intended to promote communication.
Effective communicators often extend their single-word responses so that the dialogue can continue long (see further below).
A closed question shouldn’t be restricted to a one-word answer.
In the example above, the person could simply say the question “yes or no.
If they were looking to engage in conversation, they could use words like:
“No, I took the train. I find it so much simpler than driving. What do you think?”
“Yes, it is, but isn’t parking difficult? The next time I’ll take a bus.”
“No, I’ve heard that the traffic was awful. Do you drive yourself? Was traffic bad?”
Closed questions can help focus discussions and obtain precise, concise responses in the event of need, such as to test comprehension.
They are also an effective method of establishing zones of interest.
Answers to Open Questions
Open questions expand response possibilities since they require more discussion and explanation. Examples include:
“What was the flow of traffic like today?”
“What do you think you’d like to gain from this conversation?”
The open-ended questions can take longer to reply to. However, they give the person asking them the freedom to express themselves and allow for participation in the discussion.
If you ever encounter someone new, whether on the job or in a social gathering, ask you at least one open and one closed question. Note the difference (if there is any) in their responses.
Be aware of:
- It is the length
- The tone of voice
- The body language that is associated along
- What is next.
Reflection and Clarification
Reflection is relaying to someone else your interpretation of what has been stated. It is useful in many verbal communication scenarios and is a valuable technique to master.
Reflecting can involve understanding the message conveyed via the person speaking to you in your language, taking all the information and emotions communicated, and expressing your thoughts and understanding back to the person who talked to you.
It’s useful for:
- You can confirm whether you’ve understood the message completely.
- The speaker receives feedback about how the message was perceived.
- It indicates respect and interest for what the other person is saying.
You’re demonstrating that you have considered the perspective of the other.
The next time you’re talking with someone you know, and they’re talking about something, take a moment to reflect on the information you’ve heard. The most effective phrases are:
“So you’re saying …”
“Would you be able to claim you believed you were …?”
“I’m hearing about that …”
Please take note of the impact it affects the conversation and the individual’s physique, appearance, and voice.
Summarizing in verbal communication
A summary provides a brief overview of the most important aspects or concerns raised. The purpose of summarizing is the same as reflecting. Summarizing is similar to reflecting, but it also permits both parties to examine and decide on the communications exchanged between them at this point. If used properly, the summaries can also be used to reference the next steps.
How verbal communication is closed or concluded will, at the very least, partially affect how the receiver will remember it.
Various subtle or even less subtle signals are employed to stop an interaction. For example, some individuals can be hesitant to make eye contact or stand up, move off their bodies, and engage in actions like watching the clock or closing notepads or books. These non-verbal gestures signal to the other party that the person initiating the conversation wants to stop the conversation.
They might, however, require an indication verbally, particularly if the other person doesn’t appear to be ready to end the conversation.
“I’m sorry to say that I’ll have to leave since I will have to go somewhere urgent. Perhaps we can do some other time?”
Abruptly ending a conversation could not permit the other party to ’round off’ what you are saying. Therefore you must ensure that there’s a time to complete your conversation properly.
The end of an interaction is the ideal time to plan any arrangements for the future. And lastly, but certainly not least, it is sure to be followed by a range of acceptable social gestures to end the interaction, including handshakes.
It is essential to comprehend and make use of the full potential of your voice so that you are communicating your message clearly when you speak. Your voice will reveal the same aspects of your life as it does your appearance.
The sound and the tone of speech can give clues about the person’s mood, and dialects can reveal their geographical origins. The voice is distinct for every individual.
If self-esteem is low, this can be seen when speaking. Someone shy may be quiet, but someone confident in their abilities is more likely to be in control of their voice and clarity of speech.
The elements of effective verbal communication
Impressive speech has nothing to do with the old school concept of ‘elocution’, where everyone was expected to use the same manner. Instead, it’s about speaking in public confidently and clearly, while at the same time reflecting your personality.
The Aspects of Effective Speaking
- Make yourself comfortable with your voice
- The effects breath has on speech and voice
- Vocal production.
Accents does impact verbal communication
Accents of ethnic and regional origin are beneficial; they make up a part of the individual. Gradually due to the movement of populations and exposure to news, these accents are disintegrated and neutralized.
In certain ways, this is an unfortunate thing because accents provide a distinct and unique dimension to the voice and emphasize individuality. However, it does minimize the chance of misinterpretations or miscommunication due to a lack of familiarity with accents.
Make yourself comfortable with your voice.
Most of us do not have a firm grasp on the tone of our voices. However, it is essential to listen to yourself and get used to your voice and how it sounds. People tend to be more relaxed in private settings, especially at home, when there isn’t any pressure to adhere to other social norms or expectations.
Exercise: Hearing your voice
Recording your voice in a casual setting.
Pay attention to your voice so that you get used to your voice.
Be aware of any elements of your presentation that you feel could decrease the impact of your speech. Be sure to talk to someone else to determine if this is true and how accurate it is based on your perception.
Many people are not happy with the sound or feeling of their recorded voice, the same way that people are not fond of photos of themselves because they are ashamed.
The majority of us aren’t aware of our own voices. These emotions are completely normal.
Overcome the initial “Do I really sound like that?’ phase and get a better grasp of your vocal.
Relaxation makes you feel surer of your point.
If you can listen to your voice in the comfort of your home, you’ll have an impression of how you sound to others. While you may not be able to hear your voice the same way people hear it, you will develop an awareness of how your voice impacts others.
Knowing the physical characteristics of your voice can give you greater control over how you utilize it. Individuals are used to speaking casually throughout their daily lives, but whenever an element of formality is suggested, they may get self-conscious and panic. This is especially evident when speaking to strangers in public settings.
The more you become accustomed to hearing your voice speaking formally, the more comfortable it becomes to use it “for real”. In conversational settings, people typically talk in short phrases, one at one time. Reading aloud will help you get used to the more fluid sounds of the voice.
Exercise: Speaking aloud
Choose a book to read, at least two pages long. The beginning pages from a textbook could be ideal. You can read the document in silence first and then speak it aloud using your familiar voice. Do not worry if you fall or stumble, but pick it up again and keep reading until you reach the final.
Then read it a second time, record your voice, if you can and remember:
- The slowing down the process: It’s normal for us to desire to have your point completed as quickly as possible, and often this causes people to stumble when they speak. The speeding up can happen when you’re stressed, which usually makes it more difficult to comprehend.
- Keep your head straight. Don’t put your chin in the book while your voice is directed at the floor. Keep your book up higher, and then project your voice.
- Stop occasionally after a sentence or the conclusion of a paragraph. This will allow you to take a brief two or three-second break. It is a good idea to take pauses to highlight.
Practice this exercise as often as you can, using various reading materials. Anyone can improve voice quality within a few days by doing simple activities, such as the one mentioned above.
To get better, you’ll require a specific commitment to practice frequently for a couple of minutes each day.
The impact of breath on speech and voice
The voice responds to emotions, and it can also be blocked, which may restrict or inhibit the expression of emotions.
However, it is possible to utilize physical exercises to develop an even more flexible voice, similar to how those who sing professionally attend classes to ensure their voices remain in good condition and ready to sing the various sound.
Under stress, a person’s breathing pattern can change. When muscles are stressed, they cannot utilize your lungs to their maximum capacity. The most common sign is tension in your shoulder and neck if you’re scared or nervous.
It happens because, under stress, breathing becomes too rapid, and over-breathing is likely to happen. The air inhaled is plentiful; however, there’s no time to exhale and let it out with fast breathing.
Breath is vital because of the following reasons.
- When you breathe fully, it will help support the voice to become fuller, richer and more powerful. This is beneficial to those with a low voice who are worried that they won’t be heard when speaking in front of a crowd. The abdomen and not the throat control the volume; therefore, breathing at a high volume will give you more control of your voice.
- Breathing deeply and rhythmically can have a relaxing and therapeutic effect, as it eases tension and encourages relaxation. Relaxed people feel more comfortable, balanced and secure. It’s not a coincidence that various religions utilize breathing techniques that use rhythm, like yoga, meditation, quiet contemplation or vocal release through hymns, chants, or mantras singing to enhance their worship. In reducing physical tension, the mental stress is reduced, and the mind is liberated to pursue the creative path.
The exercise to improve breathing
Relax in a comfortable place with your feet a distance apart, keeping your knees unlocked and not bent back rigidly. Keep your spine straight, body balanced, and facial muscles relaxed.
Breathe in slowly to a count of three. Breathe out for a slow number of three. Do not raise your shoulders while breathing. Breathe through your nose, and then exhale through the mouth. Be aware of the breath filling your lungs until the lowest point. Place the palm of your hand against your stomach and feel the movements. You can push your hand a little while the breath comes in and goes out.
Repeat the exercise 10 times. After several days of practicing this exercise, increase the count of the outgoing breath to three and then five and six, slowly growing to 10 before you are required to take a breath. After that, count loudly on the breath you take out from one to 10. Repeat the exercise five times.
When you improve control over your outgoing breath, you’ll never appear ‘breathy’ or think you’re ‘running in the air’ when speaking in front of a crowd or meeting.
Production of vocals
Three essential components of vocal production have to be understood by all who wants to become successful in verbal communication and/or public speaking:
- The volume – the sound for you to hear.
- Clarity – to be understood.
- Variety is the key to bringing interest.
It’s not a matter of treating your voice as that volume knob on the remote for your TV. Certain people have naturally soft voices and physically are unable to shout. If your voice gets raised excessively, it loses its tone. Instead of raising the voice, it is better to project it. This projection occurs from the diaphragm and beneath the lungs, not from the throat’s larynx.
This means you will need to back your voice with plenty of breath. The longer you wish to project your voice, the longer you require. When speaking to a crowd or meeting, it’s crucial not to direct your speech toward those in the first row or closest people; instead, think about presenting your thoughts to those farther away. When you have a clear voice, you will be perceived as a positive person instead of an overly loud voice.
Many people prefer to talk with their teeth clenched and without movement of their lips. This inability to fully open their mouths and produce sound with accuracy can be the main reason for inaudibility.
The sound is locked in the mouth and is not allowed out.
It is essential to loosen the jaw, widen the mouth, and provide all the benefits of every sound you produce with particular attention paid to the end of words.
It will also benefit your audience as some lip-reading is possible.
Variety in verbal communication
Certain strategies are employed to achieve good articulation of sound while speaking. It is crucial not to sound fake or sound like you’re performing. While words are a source of the meaning of words, how they are used reflects your emotions and feelings. Vocal variety is accomplished through variations in:
Pace: This refers to the rate at which you speak. If you speak too fast, the listeners won’t be able to comprehend what you are saying. However, it’s recommended to alter the speed, increasing it periodically before slowing down. This can help keep the excitement.
Volume: Increase or decrease the volume at times to clarify what you are trying to emphasize. If you reduce your voice down to whisper (as long as it’s projected) in a sentence to two or so, this could cause your audience to become more conscious, but be cautious not to use too much of this technique.
Pitch – Inflection – Accent when you speak in public, communicate the message using as much energy and enthusiasm as you can. However, this doesn’t mean your voice should be swooping and chaotically diving across the room. Make the presentation entertaining, and keep in mind that your vocal cords tighten and shrink when you’re anxious or excited, making the voice rise higher. Use certain phrases and words in the presentation to emphasize their significance and provide variety.
Pause: Pauses are effective. They can create an impact to draw attention to the previous announcement or attract attention before a crucial message. Pauses are when you stop talking for a couple of seconds. The way people interpret pauses is through their ears. Therefore, it is important to be in silence for up to 5 seconds. Dramatic pauses such as this create authority and trust.
Warm-up for the occasion
In advance of any significant speaking occasion, it’s important to prepare your voice, regardless of whether it’s an interview, appointment, or even a talk.
Exercise to warm up
To ensure that you get comfortable without embarrassment, it is an excellent idea to create and perform a basic warm-up routine at home.
There are several possibilities for warm-up exercises. These include:
- Breathing, as described earlier;
- Exaggerated smiles and frowns that are held for a few seconds at a stretch;
- Big yawns to expand your jaw and stretch your face;
- Try a few tongue-twisters. It’s always better to choose ones that have a connection to the trouble spots you’re dealing with. For instance, if you are prone to slipping on the letters s or f, you could consider ‘She sells seashells at the seashore.’ Other great ones include “Red jelly, Yellow jelly,” repeated constantly. They can help you relax as well as warm-up your voice.
- Try singing several scales. It doesn’t matter if they’re out of tune. Practice singing downwards and upwards in a sequence of at least the four- or five-note range with various sounds, or sing the same note several times. For example, you can start by singing Ah, followed by Ee, Oh or Oo, and finally Do or Mi. Singing helps warm your voice faster than speaking. If your throat feels dry, try taking a sip (or two) of liquid or boil the kettle and breathe in the steam.
It’s probably best to warm up somewhere nobody can hear you since it might sound odd. If you’re not certain you’ll have enough time once you reach the location, try it in the car or the bathroom while on the train.
In unit-4 we will learn about Effective Conversation to make compelling and charismatic impact on listeners.