“I want this to be informal.” That statement was near the end of the stated logistics of a manager to about 200 troops in a meeting. The forum was a large auditorium, and the manager was on an elevated stage, with a backdrop of a two-story A/V screen showing scripted PowerPoint. The presenter was mic’d wirelessly, and never came in to the audience. There was almost no impromptu content, and eye contact was sparse.He may have wanted things to be informal, but everything about the situation screamed formality. Perhaps the way it was phrased — “I want…” — made it even worse. The audience knew at once that what the manager wanted was not reality. Anything else he had to say was likely dismissed as not reality as well.The inconsistent message was further driven home when the presenter made a point to say he wanted questions and dialog. But when it was time for Q&A, he asked for questions while backing up, and answered the first question with his arms crossed. Both non-verbal communications screamed “I don’t want to hear what you have to say” while the words tried to pry comments from the audience. When there is a discrepancy in message, the non-verbal is usually treated with greater trust.
Make your message, your logistics, and your delivery consistent.