The Media Trainers®
He stutters and stammers and often has to back up and correct a pronunciation. Yet, Jack Welch is one of the most effective communicators I’ve ever encountered. I’ve met him, spent time with him, and followed him in the media. His speech impediments, if that is an accurate description, certainly can be traced to his early childhood.
So what’s his secret? Well, it’s really no secret at all. Welch super sells his points non-verbally. His body language is emphatic; it validates what he is saying and makes him very convincing. I’ve witnessed him hold an audience of 750+ in the palm of his hand just through the way he used his hands, arms, and, when it fit, even his legs to make a point. Almost every word he uttered was supported by his non-verbal punctuation.
If an expert were to base judgment on Jack’s oratorical skills on speech alone, he would be overlooking more than 90% of what is being communicated.
I use one particular piece of video of Welch in my training that captures completely just how important your body language is to persuasive communication. You can click on it below. It’s from an interview with Chris Matthews, the master of interruption, on Hardball during a program from the business school at the University of Chicago. Welch is talking about how the desire of American businesses to innovate and take risks is being negatively affected by government regulation. In this segment, by the way, Matthews was so captivated by Welch, he (Chris) said just one word the entire time: “Yeah.”
Your body language is important for all types of interviews. In a print interview, body language can help reporters choose the right quotes to use, and pick up the essence of your intended message. Even over the phone, body language comes through in the tone and sense of enthusiasm in your voice.
Jack Welch’s body language is honest; it’s not contrived; it comes naturally. And while you don’t have to imitate Jack Welch when you’re talking to a reporter, or employees, or a large audience, do what feels comfortable and will help you leave intended impressions.