It’s not just that more conversations are being held online these days – the way we communicate face-to-face has changed. We’re all adapting to this new normal but social distancing and mask protocols may prove to be bigger challenges than many of us originally anticipated.
Communication breakdowns can cause arguments, foster mistrust, waste time and energy, and are generally frustrating. But they can be prevented, even with these new obstacles to being heard and understood.
Just like how we had to learn the do’s and don’ts of professional communication in our early days, there are some skills and habits that can be adopted to help make a bigger impact when speaking while wearing a mask.
Here are my Five Keys for Killer Covered-up Conversations:
- Move Your Mouth MORE: But why bother if you are wearing a mask? People don’t just read your lips when you talk. Exaggerating your tongue, lip, and jaw movements, especially when wearing a mask or speaking from a distance, allows for better enunciation and clearer speech, helping you be a more effective communicator.
- Speak With Your Eyes: Your eyes are the windows to the soul and they are more important than ever when 2/3 of your face is covered by a mask. Express yourself through direct eye contact, smiling fully so that the corners of your eyes crinkle genuinely. When possible, remove conversational distractions that could block cues important to connecting such as hair in your face or a hat that shadows your eyes.
- Add Gestures: You don’t have to use sign language to communicate effectively with your body and hands, but they can help to get your point across. Just think charades! When you use your whole body to communicate meaningfully, your message never gets lost. Every motion matters when you need to convey information clearly and concisely.
- Slow Down: Although it’s understandable to want to complete your masked interactions quickly, remember that often it takes longer to repeat yourself over and over than it does to communicate clearly and fully the first time. That means speaking at a pace your partner can follow. Add pauses after important phrases to make sure the other party has received and processed your message the way you intended.
- Speak Up: Don’t be afraid to use the full strength of your voice to impact your target. Nobody likes to be screamed at, but everyone will always appreciate being able to hear what you say behind your mask. Cloth masks absorb sound by their very nature and muffle your tone exponentially the further away you are from your audience. Maintaining good posture will allow you to project your voice beyond your mask more loudly with better diction and less effort.
Be aware that everyone has different communication needs, and with the additional barriers of masks and social distancing, it’s especially important to put our best voice forward whenever we speak.
How are you dealing with your covered-up conversations? Are you already using some of these techniques? Which one do you need the most work on?
If you are ready to Speak Up With HEART™ from behind your mask, I’m on your team and ready to help. Sign up to talk with me: https://letsmeet.io/helenmoses/how-do-i-sound-session