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  • Writer's pictureAndy at Fireside Fundraising

Was Ursula right? The importance of body language.

I was recently rewatching The Little

Mermaid and the line that Ursula, the sea witch, says of ‘don’t forget the importance of BODY LANGUAGE’ got me thinking about conversations I've had recently about having meetings.

Meetings in person vs meetings on Zoom is a question I keep getting asked - in particular because Zoom misses some body language. But I can’t help but wonder: do we truly believe the stat that only 3% of communication is the words we say, and the rest being made up of tone and body language?


It’s commonly believed that up to 70% of our communication is body language and, while apparently this is enough for Ariel to cause Eric to fall in love with her, actually as a grownup, this throws up some ethical questions for me. 


Even if body language is 70% of conversation, how much can you really know someone without exchanging any words? It’s creepy, Eric!


(Speaking of the importance of words, we'd love to know what 3 words you associate with Fireside Fundraising - tell us here.)


This got me thinking about the validity of this data. We are often having conversations on the phone or via email where there is no body language or limited tone, and while we often talk about using voice notes or phone calls to be able to convey that meaning better, I want you to cast your mind back to a recent meeting or conversation you had.


Do you really remember the way they leant forward, or do you remember the words they said?


After this, I fell down a research rabbit hole where I found a really interesting article titled "Killing the myth that 93% of communication is non-verbal". While I agree that non verbal communication is really important as they lay out in the article, I do think it's important that we give significance to the words we use too. Certain turns of phrase stick in our minds, and in particular, using simple language makes things much much easier. The most passionate person talking about biodiversity is going to lose out to a semi-passionate person talking about the air we breathe and the food we eat. Being understood is far more important than flailing your arms wildly as you speak. And this reminds me that it's important for us to take statistics with a grain of salt.


If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know better than anyone else how much Fireside Fundraising loves a stat. But even we can take the learning from these stats without swearing by them. For example, we can learn that non-verbal language is important without being at the expense of the words we use.And so we'd love to ask you: how much emphasis are you putting on your pitch presentation vs how much emphasis are you putting in making sure your pitch is understandable?If you'd like to have some help in making the way you speak about your charity emotional, simple and engaging, we'd love to help you with this.


If you have a different stat you hate, or something you want to talk about, let us know! 



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