Paraverbal communication is used where information is mainly only heard. The main issue here is HOW something is said. Because that has a significant impact on your transmitted message. You will learn now how remote teams in particular can communicate in the best possible way. As their focus is sometimes only on the voice.
The term paraverbal comes from the Greek term “pará” which means “beside”. With that we have already completed the explanation: Paraverbal describes everything that is transmitted together with language.
Where does paraverbal communication play a role?
Paraverbal interaction always plays a role when we work with our voice. Also when certain emotions should be transmitted. So let’s think of audiobooks, podcasts, radio programs, or telephone calls. The first two examples have developed into big trends in the last years. That show us the relevance of paraverbalia.
Let us take a look in the working world. Consulting services, job interviews but also online meetings are situations in which paraverbal communication is important. Wherever you want to achieve a certain effect with the recipient. For example: Sell the presentation well in your team or convince the new employer of yourself and your skills.
Paraverbal communication in digital teams
Verbal and non-verbal communication are probably common terms for most of you. Paraverbal communication on the other hand is often underestimated. Or completely forgotten in this context. Wrongly. Communication with team colleagues and superiors has taken place much more in the digital world. Not least due to the Corona crisis. There is an increasing interest in outsourcing possibilities and the use of remote workers. This proves that paraverbal conversation needs a stronger focus.
Remote teams communicate mainly online. But what works in the real world can quickly become an obstacle in digital dialogue. Important parts of communication such as smell, physical proximity are missing here. Sometimes even facial expressions (in purely audio meetings). This fact complicates the natural way of communication. To not lose contact with your team all team members should consider a few tips for future online meetings.
The “7-38-55 Rule” of communication
This graphic shows the so-called “7-38-55 rule” of psychologist and professor Albert Mehrabian. It describes how a message is transmitted. 7 percent via the content, 38 percent via the voice and 55 percent via body language. This shows the importance of paraverbal communication in digital and analogue conversation.
Examples of good paraverbal communication
Can range from quiet to loud. Try to find a healthy balance in your online gatherings. Both a voice that is too loud and a voice that is too quiet can cause the other participants to lose interest. A healthy and pleasant mediocrity creates trust and acceptance in your team.
tone of voice
Can range from low to high. In Germany we say “The sound makes the music”. For example: a trembling voice conveys nervousness, an aggressive voice seems threatening. Everyone in the team finds a calm and gentle voice to be pleasant and positive.
Can range from unimportant to important. Emphasis allows you to focus on specific spoken words in online meetings to emphasize their importance.
Can range from slow to fast. If the tempo is too slow, it quickly becomes monotonous and tiring for your listener. Speaking too fast leads to problems of understanding and overwhelms the listener. A good mediocrity is here also important in order to convey control and seriousness.
Can range from clear to indistinct. If you don’t speak clearly this quickly leads to a loss of interest in the team. An exaggeratedly clear pronunciation on the other hand sounds hypocritical and artificial. So speak clearly, naturally and understandable so that everyone can follow well.
Noises associated with speech can be slightly coughing, sighing or clearing your throat. It can be perceived both positively and negatively. A subtle laugh before the start of a presentation can for example help to create a pleasant atmosphere. And it can be perceived by all participants even without camera use.
pauses and silence
“No answer is also an answer,” they say. But these pauses in speaking do not necessarily signal a lack of (self-) confidence. Used correctly they can also attract attention and create space for reflection.
Paraverbal communication plays a decisive role especially for remote teams. Other levels of communication are missing here and usually only the voice remains. That’s why it’s also very beneficial to provide your teammates with honest feedback from time to time. In this way you can uphold a good communication and atmosphere.