Debunking 3 myths of public speaking

How and why these supposed “rules” have been misunderstood and misapplied.

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These widely believed public speaking myths put pressure on you to do things that are unnecessary.

Myth No.1: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

You’ve most likely heard that 7 percent of your message comes from what you say, 38 percent from your tone of voice, and 55 percent from your body language. There’s no credible evidence that these figures apply to normal day-to-day conversations and presentations.

The figures come from an experiment carried out by Albert Mehrabian 43 years ago. The experiment was very limited in its application. It involved single, tape-recorded words and photographs of people with different facial expressions. I’ve described the experiment in detail here: Mehrabian and nonverbal communication. In the 43 years since, there has been no research that replicates his results in more natural situations.

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