Reaching the Heights - The Art of Conversation

The Art of Conversation

Getting your message across is like an artist starting with a blank canvas. There are many tools available; it’s choosing the right one at the appropriate time that determines the success of the result. Communicating your message can be done with 2-components: Verbal and non-verbal. To communicate best, both need to be used together.

Verbal communication involves the choice of words, and words have great power. Examples of the use of words to carry power can be seen in powerful orators and writers, such as Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther King Jr, William Shakespeare, Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi. We do not usually speak of these people together, because we like the message of some, but not that of others. But I’m referring to their capacity, in their own time and context, to persuade and motivate others.

Verbal communication is what you do say. Non-verbal communication is what you don’t say. The first involves the choice of words and the way they are put together to produce an impact on an individual or audience. Churchill and Jesus were very good at this, as was William Shakespeare. The second (no words) adds emphasis, emotion, conviction and depth to the words used. It can make something quite ordinary into something very special and highly emotional, like a mothers love, or the value to many of warplanes destroying an enemy ( as in Churchill’s, “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few”).

Vocabulary can win or lose your audience. Expanded vocabulary can set you apart and draw in an audience, impressing them with your understanding. However, with less educated groups a more basic vocabulary is much more effective. The late Bryn Jones is quoted as saying, “I try to make my preaching understandable to 14 year-olds”.

Lots of colour, in your examples, and tone variation in your voice will make what you say more appealing and engaging to listeners. Jesus was very good at choosing examples that engaged people. The quicker pace of your delivery will indicate excitement, the slower impart thoughtfulness and weightiness for increased impact. How you use volume can take your listeners on a roller-coaster ride, drawing them emotionally into the verbal picture you are painting. This can work whether you are speaking to an audience or in a one-on-one conversation.

The emotion of making people laugh, thus lightening the tone of the conversation, or cry, indicating passion or compassion, shows a more tender side to the speakers disposition and feelings. It can tone down the speaker’s intensity and indicate they do not take themselves too seriously.

You must take care with enunciation, pronouncing your words clearly; it’s the opposite of mumbling. There is a balance between sounding natural and allowing your words to run together.

Remember that practice makes perfect. Some people have the charisma to carry their listeners into and along with their stories and recollections. But it’s not an exclusive art, it can be improved with practice. You can be a colourful and effective communicator, but you may just need to work at it a little.

Being practical, we have discussed only half of the requirements for good communication and conversation. The remaining part is non-verbal; that which is not spoken. For example, the use of your facial expression and body movement. Have you ever taken a video of yourself to see what you do with your hands, arms and eyes whilst you are speaking?

Hands can be very demonstrative, lending emphasis to what you are saying. However, if you over-do-it, whose listening/watching are going to be wondering what your hands are going to do next, rather than being captivated by what you are saying. Your arms can “close-off” the person talking to you. If you fold your arms whilst they are speaking, it indicates closure, even fear or opposition.

Your eyes are very important. They are the window of your soul. When you look into someone’s eyes, it can seem like nothing is hidden. Eye contact can be very winsome and quite disarming. Don’t be looking around at other things whilst listening or conversing, it communicates lack of interest. When you are speaking to someone, even an audience, look at them. Listen and speak to them with your eyes: Eye contact gives them importance.

If you are giving a presentation, your position is important. Even when you are speaking from behind a podium or lectern, pausing and focusing on the audience will engage their attention. Moving away from the podium towards the audience, especially accompanied by a change in tone of voice, even to a whisper, will draw them into what could be a secret (this is easier to do whilst using a microphone because you can make your whisper heard more easily). Sitting usually communicates casualness, so you can share between sitting and standing to facilitate a change of mood. Variety, used carefully, can help to keep audience attention and interest.

Even in a presentation, facial expression and what you do with your eyes, both raises and lowers intimacy and audience engagement. Your subject is important. It must be something you live, or that captivates you. But the way you present it, whether to an individual in private conversation or to an audience of hundreds will make all the difference as to whether it lives for them.

Finally, even the most interesting subject and person presenting it should be very careful about time. How long can you hold your listener or audience? It’s important not to keep them too long. Try to ensure that you finish on a high, when they are still engaged and interested. That way they may want to come back for more.

You too can become a seasoned speaker if you actually want to? Even with limited gifting,practice and following basic guidelines will get you there.

[I acknowledge reference to an article entitled, “8-ways to master the art of communication”, by Jim Rohn, Success Magazine, 24 July 2016]

Great faith is the product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials. Smith Wigglesworth
In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. Eric Hoffer
Take what bothers you most as an invitation by God to work at solving that problem. Lance Wallnau
Without grace, life is filled with struggle, it is not a life we enjoy; but with his grace, we can enter the rest (peace) of the Lord and experience joy unspeakable and full of glory. Joyce Meyer
You never lose; you win or you learn. Nelson Mandela
Your behaviour won't change until your thoughts change. As long as you think, "I can't do this", you are never going to be able to do it! Joyce Meyer
I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe. Smith Wigglesworth
Leadership is not about titles, positions or flow charts. It's about one life influencing another. John Maxwell
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When we believe in God's sovereignty, and not our own understanding, we'll see how our problems will never outweigh what God has promised us (Prov. 3:5 NIV) T D Jakes
Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. Jim Rhon
If I give up my right to understand, He will give me the peace that passes understanding. Bill Johnson
Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill
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Being powerful is like being a lady, if you have to tell people you are, then you aren't. Margaret Thatcher
The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but God will make us good because he loves us. C S Lewis
Fear is misplaced faith. Kris Vallotton
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God is not nearly so interested in changing your circumstances as he is in changing you. Joyce Meyer
Pray, and let God worry Martin Luther
Those who never change their mind never change anything. Winston Churchill
What you do (for a living) is not who you are.  Celia Apeagyei-Collins 
 People who write you off when you fail know nothing about history and even less about life. No person ever fully succeeds until they fully fail. Lance Wallnau 
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He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Jim Elliot
You never know how much you really believe anything until it's truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life or death to you. C S Lewis
If you know you are loved, faith is easy. It's easy to trust someone you know loves you. David Forster
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no one knows how bad they are until they have tried very hard to be good.. C S Lewis
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How you feel is not who you are. Feelings are great servants and terrible masters. Kris Vallotton
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The enemy commits identity theft when you believe you must earn what God freely gives. Alison Brown
If you agree with your creator and receive what he freely gives, you will have serenity in your identity and confidence in your countenance. David Forster
If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got. David Forster
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Satan cannot impose his will on anyone, he has to have our agreement.  Graham Cooke
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Real faith is not faith in an outcome (of a particular situation or circumstance), it's faith in a person. David Forster
Be in no doubt that God will redeem the losses and mistakes of your past life. David Forster
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I am not focused on what I am not, I am focused on what he is for me. David Forster
Reaching the Heights