Today I was reading the book Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo. In it, the author analyses what accounts for an effective speech, by looking at 500 different Ted Talks. First of all, I believe that this was a brilliant idea on learning the essence of public speaking, as Ted provides a platform for the world’s best speakers. But that’s not the point here.
One idea in her book that captured my interest, was that ideally audio books should be spoken at a rate of 150 to 160 words per minute, while a normal face-to-face conversation ideally should be about 190 words per minute. She then goes on by describing a conversation with her vocal coach when shy was recording the audio, which I will quote below:
“This isn’t a casual conversation,”, the vocal coach said. “Audio books should be read at slightly slower pace because people are listening to it, often in their cars. They don’t have the added sensory input of seeing your lips move and your facial expressions” (Quote by Carmine Gallo)
And that’s when I realized, that in virtual teams the problem is exact same: communicating effectively in virtual teams is to a big extent so difficult, because people can’t see your nonverbal behaviours as clearly as they could when they were talking to you on a face-to-face basis. And especially in cross-cultural communication encounters, seeing one’s nonverbal encounter is of crucial importance, because a lot of different facial expressions are universal across cultures, and therefore can give us important cues to understanding people from all nationalities.
In other words, the simple advice to slow down your pace a little bit when reading an audio book could easily be applied to virtual meetings, too. And this is one thing that I find quite fascinating: how professional speakers pay attention to every small detail, even going as far as to record your voice while speaking in order to determine how many words per minute you speak. Perhaps it is time for you to do the same, even if it is just to improve your communication in virtual teams.