Debunking the 55/38/7 speaking rule

There is a so-called rule in public speaking, which is that

  • 55% of what you say comes from your body language.
  • 38% comes from your tone of voice.
  • And only 7% are the actual words you use.

I have seen this rule in many books, and spoken about by many speakers. Well, in fact the rule actually does not exist at all. The “rule” is the result of research done by Albert Mehrabian in the 1960’s, and it was never meant to be generalized.

He was simply trying to draw a correlation between facial expressions, spoken word and interpretation, and he never intended his results to be applied to normal conversation.

So folks, please stop using the rule – what you say is as important as how you say it!

There is a very interesting article about the whole story here . (from the Jan 2006 Toastmasters mag).

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