Saturday, August 29, 2009

Less is More

Yesterday I had a fascinating conversation with a conductor who spent the summer working with an orchestra in Salzburg. She spoke of the challenge of communicating with the musicians in German, when she barely speaks the language.

The conductor was forced to say less and rely even more on nonverbal communication and say only what was absolutely necessary. She realized that she was able to get across the same information just as effectively - and much more efficiently - than when she was speaking in English.

From the Green Room: Next time you prepare a presentation, imagine that you will be speaking to a group of people for whom English is a second language. Eliminate filler words. Speak as simply and clearly as possible. Focus on the essence of what you are trying to communicate. Then try practicing your speech focusing solely on nonverbal communication (gestures, facial expressions, movement, etc).

You will see that by using fewer words, you will actually say much more.


Anonymous said...

I love the eclectic sources of inspiration for your blog!
But isn't it also sometimes necessary to pare down non-verbal communication? I've definitely seen situations in which excessive use of gesture & facial expression interferes with the message even more than a surfeit of words.

Sarah Gershman said...

Of course. But simple, intentional gestures and motions can often say more than words.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sarah,

It makes sense that this conductor would be able to communicate through the non-verbal language conductors use to communicate with musicians in both rehearsal and concerts. It's the language they share. Professional musicians in rehearsal generally don't want a lot of verbal communication, and a lot of musical terms are in Italian anyway! (smile) I'm glad this conductor had a good experience (I'm surprised that there weren't more English-speaking musicians in the orchestra) and I'm certain it will make her a better conductor in the end.

Actually, conductors need to pay attention to how they present themselves at concerts. The moment they step on stage, their demeanor and movements set the tone for the concert. Writers also need help for readings/book signings....(smile)

C.C. Yager

Sarah Gershman said...

Thank you for commenting. My conductor friend did mention that one of the hardest parts of conducting is that the musicians absorb every move you make. Please let me know if I can ever be helpful to you in terms of the readings and book signings. Good luck!