5 little-known psychological tricks to be a much better communicator

How many conversations do you have in a day? 

According to a British study, most of us have 27 conversations per day, lasting about 10 minutes each. That means we spend 4.5 hours per day or more than 2 months every year, in conversation.

Like it or not, we all have to communicate. So we might as well be good at it, right? 

On a scale from 1-10, how would you rate your communication skills? A few years back, I was at about 4/10. I’ve been working on it ever since and although I’m still improving, I’ve learned some things along the way that have really improved my communication. 

Today I’m sharing 5 little-known psychological tricks to be a much better communicator.

Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey or you’re already a skilled communicator – there are sure to be a few tricks you haven’t tried yet. 

Let’s get started.

1) Tell stories

The power of storytelling in business is well-documented — “Stories have the power to grab attention, connect with emotion and persuade us to take action,” as noted by Forbes

What we seem to forget is that stories are just as powerful in our day-to-day communication with others. 

You might be thinking: “I don’t have any interesting stories to share”. But that is simply not true. If you look for good stories to tell, you’ll soon see, they are happening around you every day. 

My colleague, Paul, is a fantastic storyteller. It’s like he pours his heart and soul into even the simplest story. His enthusiasm is infectious, his timing is genius and his delivery is always on point. 

Paul has mastered the art of how to tell a great story and we can all do this. But first, we’ve got to decide that as part of our communication, we are going to tell stories, not just share facts. 

Telling stories helps to make you a better communicator because it engages people and creates an emotional connection with them. It makes you more interesting and memorable. 

The human mind is about 22 times more likely to remember facts if those facts are part of a story, as outlined by psychologist Jerome Bruner in his book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds.

Give it a try. 

2) Pay attention to your pitch 

Have you ever noticed that some people just speak with conviction and authority? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how they do it, but they come across as strong and confident. 

There’s a simple psychological trick that can help you do the same. 

Let me explain: some people have a high-pitched voice, others a much lower-pitched voice. All of us vary our pitch as we speak without really knowing it. We can take control of this. 

“If you’re constantly at a high pitch, others might assume you’re unsure about what you want to convey. This can lead to a sense of untrustworthiness that can make it harder to get what you want.” as noted by Tony Robbins.

On the other hand: a low pitch can make you sound more confident and authoritative.

Use your pitch to your advantage by finishing your sentences in a lower pitch when you want to sound confident and drive your point home. This little-known trick will improve your communication instantly. 

3) Embrace the power of pausing

What’s your biggest challenge with communication? Whatever the challenge, there’s a good chance pausing will help. 

I’m a talkative person and sometimes, I talk too fast. It’s been a challenge for me for as long as I can remember. But I’ve been working on pausing more and it’s incredibly powerful. 

Pausing has 3 huge benefits:

  • Helps to emphasize the importance of your point
  • Gives people time to process what you are saying which means they can engage and enjoy the conversation more
  • Allows you to get rid of all of your filler words that distract from what you’re saying

Case in point: Barack Obama is renowned for his powerful and engaging speeches. Take note of his 2009 Inaugural Address. In just the first 20 seconds, it is easy to identify three very clear and intentional pauses. 

But it’s not just for presidential speeches. Pausing is a simple but extremely powerful trick that can help you to be a much better communicator because it grabs the attention of whoever you’re speaking to, holds their interest and allows them to process what you are saying without distractions. 

Like every worthwhile skill, pausing takes practice. Give it a try and watch your communication transform.  

4) Vary your pace

Did you know that Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe’s party piece is to sing “The Elements Song” incredibly fast? 

As a party piece, this is purely for the fun and entertainment of others. But it highlights something important – the pace of your speech matters. 

Varying your speech allows you to create an impression of charisma and enthusiasm with loud and fast speech and then lean into sincerity and calmness with slower, low-volume speech. 

Research by UCLA found that leaders like Steve Jobs tend to have “dynamic voices, alternating in tempo and pitch.” UCLA acoustic scientist Rosario Signorello said that aspiring leaders should take note:

“The voice is a tool that can be trained,” he said. “Singers and actors train their voices to reach higher or lower frequencies. A leader-speaker should do the same.”

Here’s the thing: why wait to be a leader to be a much better communicator? Instead, start working on this little-known trick today and level up your communication with everyone around you. 

5) Don’t forget your body language

So far we’ve talked a lot about verbal communication – what we say and how we say it.

Have you ever considered what your body language is saying to people around you? 

You’ve probably heard that communication is:  

  • 7% what you say
  • 38% the tone you use
  • 55% body language

Although this formula was created for a specific context as outlined by Psychology Today, it highlights that body language plays a huge role in our communication and yet we often don’t think about it.

The truth is: you can use your body language to strengthen your communication and the message you want to convey. You can also create a more playful and fun atmosphere with body language. 

We all know the importance of a firm handshake and good eye contact. But it goes way beyond that. Vinh Giang, communication coach and keynote speaker offers lots of tips on how to use your body language to be a better communicator.

This little-known psychological trick of focusing on body language is a great way to become a much better communicator because although it makes up 55% of communication, most of us forget to be intentional with it. 

Final thoughts

Look: we’ve all heard the typical tricks to seem like a better communicator; use the person’s name, make eye contact, ask open questions, nod to show you’re listening. The list goes on. 

They are all important but the way to really become a much better communicator is to start practicing some of the little-known tricks we’ve discussed today.

Practice is the key here: these tricks are things that take time to develop but once you do, you’ll be up there with the best communicators around so give it a go – it’ll be well worth the effort. 

 

 

 

Picture of Cat Harper

Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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