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The 3 Vs of Communication for Speaking

The 3 Vs of Communication for Speaking

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Did you know that there are 3 Vs of communication that you've got to have in alignment if you want to be an effective, powerful, and influential speaker? These 3 Vs are the key to unlocking your leadership presence and speaking with influence.


Hi, I'm Joshua Seth, keynote speaker on communication and presentation skills, and in this video I'll be talking about the three V's of communication. 

This is a framework that was first put forth in the book, silent messages by Dr. Albert Mehrabian. The three Vs are:

  1. Verbal 
  2. Vocal 
  3. Visual

Now, let me ask you, which do you think is the most important: the verbal, the actual words that you use, the vocal, the way that you sound when you say them, or the visual, commonly thought of as the body language that you're exhibiting as you speak?

Well, according to the research it's 93% the non-verbals - the vocal and the visual. That is where we get the saying, “it's not what you say. It's how you say it”. 

That's not to mean that the content of your speech doesn't matter. Of course it does. Of course the words matter. But when there's a conflict between what you're saying and the way that you are saying it, fully 93% of the emphasis of a value that the listener will place on your speech is given to the way that you say it.

• 7% for the words
• 38% for your tone of voice
• 55% for your body language

The words that you use are not just the content of your speech. It's your clarity of speech, the use of any idioms or slang in your speech, your vocabulary. The verbal component is quite literally the words that you use.

Are you using a words of  that sound professional or are you peppering your speech with slang and idioms and ums and AHS and filler words? 

The words that you use do matter, but to a lesser degree than the style in which you say them. And that's when we get into the nonverbal, such as tone of voice.

Tone of voice encompasses your pitch, your pace, the rhythm and the speed of your speech, the volume (how loud or soft you are speaking), the inflection that you have, the vocal variety (the music of your speech). All of this is thought of as your tone of voice.

Your pitch refers to your highs and your lows. The way that you sound.

When someone says, “I don't like that tone you're using”, when you hear that, it doesn't have much to do with the content of what you're saying. They’re responding to the way that you were saying it. Your tone of voice.

And finally, your body language. Body language is typically thought of as “He's got closed off body language because his arms are crossed”. But it's so much more than that. It’s your gestures. It’s the space that you're taking up. Are you making eye contact? The tilt of your head. Your posture. The way that you move in the space. The way that you feel in your clothes. Even the comfort level that you exhibit with your own body. This is your body language, and it communicates so much more than words alone. 

So what happens if:

You’ve got your verbal down pat. You know exactly what you're going to say. You’ve rehearsed your sales script. You’ve rehearsed your speech. You know exactly what to say and you sound fantastic when you say it. You've warmed up your voice and you sound magnificent when you speak… but your body language is a little awkward, you’re lifting your shoulders, and there are some little ticks going on when you speak. 

It all falls apart. It's not congruent. 

If the 3 Vs of your communication aren’t congruent then people won't believe what you're saying, because they'll believe what they're seeing. 

When there's a conflict between the two, the verbal and the non-verbal, people will believe what they see over the words that you say.That's why body language comprises 55% of the effectiveness of your communication in terms of those three Vs. 

Now let's do another scenario. What if you’ve got your verbal down, and your visuals are good too, but your vocals aren’t? 

For instance, the words that you're speaking are well thought out, your body language is confident and commanding and open and expressive and congruent, but you sound very soft when you're saying it. People have to lean in because you're barely speaking above a whisper. Or you speak in a monotone, every word the same. Or you're talking really fast, which conveys nervousness or over-excitement. 

There's so many ways that it could fall apart if the vocal aspect of your speech is not congruent with the body language and the words.

What if you have all those non-verbals together, you sound fantastic, you look fantastic, but you don't know what you're talking about? 

Then the same thing holds true. You've got to know the content of your material. But you've also got to present it in a way that creates a positive emotional response in the listener, which evokes authority and authenticity and trust. 

When you can connect all three of those together, the verbal, the vocal, and the visual, then your communication is congruent. That's that sweet spot right there. Right in the middle. That’s when you have congruency. That’s when you’ll you have professional presence, leadership presence, the sort of presence that make people want to follow what it is that you have to say. 

So the next time that you're preparing to give a speech or make a presentation, anytime that you speak to others, focus not just on the words that you are going to use, but the way that your body moves when you say it and the way that you sound as well.

Verbal vocal visual. Those are the three V's of communication. Get them all in alignment and you will be a much more powerful, effective, and influential speaker. You’ll become the kind of leader that people want to listen to, where they hang on your every word, and give you their full attention.

It’s the key to effective, congruent communication.

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