Credible Communications PART I – Webinar Transcript

Edited transcription of “Credible Communications – Effective Communication in the 21st Century” webinar for the University of Denver Alumni Association.

Part I of IV

Hello, my name is Shelley Hammell, and today I’m talking about credible communications. I’m an Executive Coach, and I do team-building for leaders. It’s great to be able to bring that to my alma mater, University of Denver. We are recording this and will be using the chat feature also. I’ll be asking a couple different questions, so if you want to use that chat feature to answer that would be fantastic.

We’re going to get started and today it’s really about credible communications. How to show up and position yourself so that when you speak you’re credible. We’re going to start this off a little bit different than you would normally think. What I hope for us to accomplish today is to talk about how communications impacts your presence. I call it Professional Presence, but when we think about communication – we just think about what we say in speaking and getting out what we need to say.

What I want us to accomplish today is how that rolls into what your Professional Presence is. We’re going to talk about the enhancers and detractors to your presence, and I’ve got some thoughts about taking action. There is no reason to listen in on something if you’re not going to do something with it, so we’ll talk a little bit about that before we wrap up today.

So, this is our first opportunity, and I asked Charlotte to help me out here. If you’re able to use your chat feature and you want to kind of pipe in, I’d love for us to hear from you. But my question is what is Professional Presence? If you want to go ahead and put that in the chat feature that would be great. But what is Professional Presence? I know we’re talking about communication today, but I mentioned that communications and presence are really tied together.

Charlotte if you can help us out here that would be great.

Charlotte: Sure. Some of the things to think about are someone who’s poised, or maybe Professional Presence can be confidence in some people. Feel free to type it into the chat feature if you have anything else you’d like to add.

Shelley: We’ll give you just another couple of seconds. Charlotte, anything else that’s popping up that you see?

Charlotte: I would say Competence. Knowledgeable. Someone who is knowledgeable.

Shelley: So, we’ve got competence and confidence and knowledge. Professional Presence is all of those things, and the thing to think about is Professional Presence is the compilation of all of these things. It’s not just one behaviour – it’s all of the behaviors, and we’re going to talk about what this really means as we continue through today’s presentation.

I want to talk a little bit about first impressions, and I always ask this question, how accurate are first impressions? The answers that I tend to hear when I’m speaking on this are not very accurate, or fifty percent accurate, or twenty percent or thirty percent. I hear all different types of answers to this, and here’s the thing that I really wanted you guys to know is that first and foremost, first impressions are formed instantaneously. They happen the moment that you meet somebody.

It’s like when we meet somebody we’re scanning. We’re scanning – are they a friend or are they a foe? We’re looking at where do they belong, and we immediately form first impressions. If you think about that, they’re formed instantaneously and how accurate are they. They’re sixty percent accurate. That means two thirds of the time that you are forming an impression or someone’s forming an impression on you.

First impressions are so accurate, sixty seven percent, but if the first impression is something that is happening in moments, in seconds what is it based on? There’s this great article that was written by Amy Cuddy in Wired magazine that stated, first impressions are based on two components, and the first is, can I trust this person? And trust is really measured by warmth. And then, can I respect this person? Will this person carry out what they say they’re going to do? Imagine if it’s two thirds accurate you want to make the best impression that you can because really these first impressions really turn into lasting impressions.

Let’s look at what are the characteristics between trust and respect, because this really is the basis for today’s conversation on effective and credible communications. Let’s look at Trust first. Measured by warmth, this is the first thing we’re looking at. We’re scanning, friend or foe and so we’re looking at, did this person smile? Are they making eye contact? Did they extend their hand for a hand shake? What’s their body language like? Were they closed off or are they open? What does that look like? And what’s their tone of voice? Is it inviting or does that sound mean, or too direct or something along those lines?

Remember, this is about competence and confidence. It’s all of these things. Will this person carry out what they say they will do? So confidence again could be about posture. Are you standing tall? Are your shoulders back? Do you have good posture? Are you open and looking like that you not only want to speak to somebody, but commanding the room? Then there’s competence – which is knowledge. Do you know your stuff, so when you speak it sound like you know what you’re talking about? And then going a little bit more into lasting impressions – are you prepared? Did you do your homework? Is the knowledge and the information that you’re sharing, does it make sense and then do you have good input into conversations?

These are just some of the things that we’re talking about. Think about all of your interactions in business, personal, wherever you are and how you show up is really what Professional Presence is. That takes me to what are the three elements of Professional Presence? It’s verbal communication, it’s nonverbal and then it’s this other area that I’m calling unconscious behaviors, or things that can detract from your presence.

As we’re talking about communications today, I’m really putting this under the guise of Professional Presence, because it truly is how you show up. People will make a decision if you’re somebody they want to work with, and want to talk to. Whether again you’re friend or foe. If you’ve got that confidence and competence – they’re going to determine if you’re somebody that they want to work with. Let’s look at what all of these elements are.

So, the first area is Verbal Communications. When we think about communication, seven percent of the way a message is received is composed of the actual words that we use. Now think about this for a minute. When you prepare formal presentations, you practice, you prepare, you do research. Maybe you’re working with your manager to get buy-in, or to sell a concept or an idea. You do the research; you focus on the content of your presentation.

Ultimately, the content only represents seven percent of the way your message is received. It’s these other elements that make so much more of a difference. Thirty eight percent of the way in which we communicate is through the tone of voice (voice inflection), and we’re going to do a little demo for you. Hopefully that will demonstrate that for you.

Thirty eight percent is through our tone and inflection, and a whopping fifty five percent comes from our nonverbal communication. We’re going to talk about that as well, and how important all of these elements are. Let’s take a look first at verbal communication. First is volume – when I raise my voice that could do a lot of different things. It could be very commanding, demanding, very direct, it could show passion and energy.

When I soften my volume, it could mean that you have to maybe listen in a little bit harder, could maybe sound that I’m tentative or that I’m not really sure of myself. Speed and pace is really important too. If I’m talking really fast, it might sound like I just want to get this over with, or I’m really nervous and I just talking, talking, talking. Speed and the way in which we pace our voice also makes a big difference, and in the way in which people perceive us, and the way in which we are most credible.

Energy. I was talking about that as well. I am passionate about communications, and what we’re talking about today, is that energy and that passion in my voice. Once again, we connect with these things that we hear – just simply in the voice. Tone and inflection also important, and in a moment, I’m going to give you a quick example of where that works. And then, last but not least, pauses and punctuation. I mention this because we don’t think about how we speak, and that it should be similar to how we write.

So, we use punctuation, periods, commas, all kinds of run-on sentences and people are just trying to listen and connect with what you’re saying. Instead take a breath. Pause. Give people time to process, give people time to connect and then be careful of what I call fillers – which are “um’s”, “uh’s”, and “so’s”, “likes”, or whatever it is that you use, because that can also make you look ineffective or unsure, or not as credible. Credibility is one of those key things that we’re looking at when we’re talking about Professional Presence.

When we’re talking about verbal communications, it’s so important that sometimes that is the only thing we have to go on. Some of you may have your video enabled so you can see me, but if you don’t and you’re just listening to me, all you have to go on is my voice. The volume, the speed, my energy, the tone, inflection pauses, punctuation and so you are forming your impression of me based on my verbal communication.

In a moment, we’re going to go into nonverbal, but it’s so important to make sure your communications is right on. Charlotte, would you help me and read these statements for me? I’ve given Charlotte three statements to read and to demonstrate inflection. I’ve asked her in each one to emphasize a particular word in that sentence, and so we’ll start with the first one. Charlotte would you mind reading that?

Charlotte: Sure. I didn’t steal the money.

Shelley: Okay. Would you say that one more time for me?

Charlotte: Sure. I didn’t steal the money.

Shelley: So if you listen to that one I didn’t steal the money. You might already be thinking, okay, Charlotte didn’t steal the money, but she knows who did. Alright. Read the next one please.

Charlotte: I didn’t steal the money.

Shelley: Okay. One more time.

Charlotte: I didn’t steal the money.

Shelley: Okay. So hopefully you guys are hearing, she didn’t steal it, but I think she thinks she borrowed it right? Just based on where you put your inflection where you put your emphasis. Alright. Our last statement Charlotte.

Charlotte: I didn’t steal the money.

Shelley: Okay. One more time.

Charlotte: I didn’t steal the money.

Shelley: Okay. She didn’t steal the money, but she stole something else. I hope that you realize just simply by emphasizing certain things based on your voice inflection you could completely change the meaning of what you’re saying. People can be tentative or unsure, and so they might have some inflection at the end of the sentence that sounds like a question instead of the statement. It’s all of these things that go into credible communications.

…Stay tuned for Part II coming next.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at

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