Most of the time I like to talk about audio production and voice over, but today, I’m going down a different path. We live in a
huge world full of people from all different cultures, walks of life, and backgrounds. In this business, we work with ultra busysubway riders, down-home good ‘ol boys, and even those who’s native language we can’t understand. Voice over (and media production in general) is a global business. I’ve worked with resort planners in Greece, auto part manufacturers in London, and loan sharks in the Broncs, and the one skill that I have seen as ESSENTIAL to all of those client relationships is communication.
Communication is an interesting animal. We do it every day in an variety of different ways, but most of us don’t even understand it. When we think of communication, we often think of professional “communicators.” Whether we are talking about a voice actor or a presenter, the professions seem to embody the art of communication, but what is communication at its core? Let’s dissect it a bit.
The Core of Communication
Did you realize that the human mind (most of ours at least) doesn’t process information in the form of text (for the most part). We conceptualize things in the form of a picture. When I say to think of a voice actor or a presenter, do you think of a paragraph of text? Or, do you think of someone you know or have seen? You have a picture in your mind of a person or concept. You see a microphone or a specific dynamic presentation. You bring your personal experience into focus, and THEN you understand what I’m talking about. This is why a picture is worth a thousand words, and pictures and media can be so impactful. This concept is powerful in media, but in everyday communication THIS is where the problem lies.
Speaking a Picture
If I want to explain something, and you want to understand it, here is the process we go through:
- I first bring to mind the picture (or concept or idea) I want to convey
- I then (in my mind) convert that picture into a message
- I then transfer that message (whether it be an email, a phone call, the spoken word, or sign language) to you
- Now you receive that message via the medium I chose
- Then you take the message and convert it (in YOUR mind) to a picture
- Then you interpret that picture (that you created) and come to some sort of conclusion
There are a lot of areas where communication can go wrong. I’m not going to get into example of how communication can go bad, but rather, I’d like to suggest a few things that we can do (as avid communicators) to make our communications more effective.
1. Understand Your Medium
I’m not talking about your psychic friend here, I mean your medium of communication. Every medium of communication has different strengths and weaknesses. One key element of communication that we need to be aware of is body language (which often speaks more than our words). When using a medium like email or text message (or any text based environment) ALL communication that is not text is missing. As I write, you can’t hear the tone of my voice, so my WORDS themselves have to convey the tone. Our words have to paint the correct picture. This is where we can get into trouble. In our own minds, we know the tone of the message we are sending. We know the picture we encoded, but the incorrect use of words can mean the receiver incorrectly decodes our message and interprets it in a way that is different from what we believed we sent. The original image has become distorted.
2. Understand Your Receiver
This is key to any relationship, and it is ESPECIALLY important when communicating with those who are in a culture that is different from our own. Every person has a different background, a different set of experiences, and a different way of decoding messages. Our only hope in effective communication is to take the time to understand HOW other people decode messages. Get to know the person, people, culture, industry, or whatever group, you regularly communicate with. Make sure the message you are sending is being received in the same way you believed you sent it.
3. Understand Your SELF
Some people have a great grasp on their own thoughts. Others have no clue what they are thinking about from minute to minute. As a result, some people are very effective at taking the picture in their mind and encoding it into a message that is decodable, while other people, have a hard time effectively encoding a message (making it difficult to decode and thus understand). Knowing how you communicate will help you understand how others decode your messages, giving you the ability to more accurately craft your message.
This is How We Live
In any business (and really in any LIFE) we communicate all the time. If we take the time to carefully craft the messages we are sending, we can become better communicators. We have to realize that whether we communicate AS our career or communicate IN our career, effective use of our communication skills will always make us better at what we do.
I hope my communication has been effective, and that you continue to grow in your ability to communicate, and towards your goals! Whatever they may be. Until next time.