Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nonverbal communication at KPC conference

Dr. LaChrystal Ricke Radcliffe
Eastern New Mexico University

As communicators we often don't think about how other people perceive us, what we look like, what we wear, what we project. We really don't necessarily think about how we will interact with our surroundings and how they will affect our communication.

Communication is a process, and often our verbal and our nonverbal communication is contradictory (so there is a malfunction in our communication system). We often put the responsibility for misunderstandings on our communication partners rather than looking internally for ways we can improve our communication. We have a difficult time admitting to ourselves that we could change some things that could lead to improved communication.

We often need to change things that we can do, but we can't change other people.

What is nonverbal communication? It's far more than facial expressions and hand gestures. How you sit, and so many other things we do that we don't realize. Nervous habits that we don't recognize we have. These habits send messages we may not intend. But, we need to think about our audience and make sure we can make some attempt to tailor our actions to fit the audience.

We are able to know and understand most nonverbal communication signals by age 12. Media has had a significant influence on how nonverbal cues are picked up and emulated by younger people. For example, LC had to teach a class of college-age girls that you can't flop into a chair with your legs spread at a job interview. This was an amazing revelation that they wouldn't already know that, and that the teaching of that concept would take one full class period.

What is nonverbal communication? Messages that are sent with intent and used regularly among members of a social community, are interpreted as intentional, and have consensually recognizable interpretations. Key components: Intent, interpretation, social context.

Communication behaviors are different from nonverbal communication. Nonverbal behaviors often make nonverbal communication difficult. Behaviors can make complicate communication because they are often spontaneous, biologically based and nonsymbolic. This is the key factor in miscommunication — the interpretation of behaviors as communication when in fact, they are simply just behaviors (such as yawning).

Our work relationships are important to think about as well. We spend a lot of time at work, and not much time thinking about how to develop these communication relationships.

Here is a list of nonverbal communication elements that we often overlook: physical appearance, gestures and movements, face and eye behavior, voice behavior, space, touch, environment, time. It's so easy for one or more of these elements that will contradict each other.

Our office space speaks much to how we communicate. We need to think about what our use of our professional space communicates to those around us.

So why is nonverbal communication so complicated? We assign meaning to nonverbal cues, even those that are sent unintentionally. Often message interpretation gets mixed up. Messages are misinterpreted and sometimes we have different understandings of nonverbal communication functions than those we are trying to communicate with. This may be because of social contexts such as culture, sex, socially understood and accepted meanings.

So how can we become better communicators? We need to be aware of our nonverbal communications and behaviors. We also need to stay aware of our own understanding and knowing how our nonverbal communication functions in communicative situations. We can learn better the impact on nonverbal behaviors and nonverbal communication.

So here's what we can do to help ourselves:
  • Remember that not everyone has similar understandings on nonverbal communication
  • We cannot control another's communication, but we can improve our own.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Media

I wish you could have been here to experience the energy and interesting conversation that took place during this presentation. Kirsten is an amazingly energetic person and presenter. I learned some really interesting information about networking and socialization on the Internet. It was educational and interesting. Thanks Kirsten!

Dr. Kirsten Sandford; Davis, CA; and (This Week in Science) a podcast broadcast by UC Davis and

"Old media" — TV, radio, telephone, etc.

"New media" — Web 2.0 is the version that came along when people could get on the web and change things and communicate and get together.

Web 3.0 is being talked about, but we're not there yet, we're still building the technology we'll need to get there.

Blogging was the starting point for Web 2.0. It began as a way for people to keep a journal or diary online. many people use it to make money, and media are using blogging more than ever. In blogging it is up to the reader to determine whether the source is trustworthy.

Podcasting: cast comes from broadcasting; pod comes from iPod. They are similar to blogging, just an audio version. Blogging and podcasting are "pull" media as opposed to old media that pushed information to users. People pull that information into their computers.

Production values are going up as professionals get involved and people are looking for stuff that's better produced.

Now we're at social communities, the step of evolution of Web 2.0 beyond blogging and podcasting. Now we can do what comes naturally, which is communicate with each other and find people with common interests.

Technology is advancing to the point that so many of these things are now being done in the pams of their hands because of advancing cell phone technology. Americans are still behind the times with this though; Japanese and Europeans are earlier adopters of this kind of technology.

Attendees engaged in a discussion about the pros and cons of the use of this new technology. Some points were brought up about the isolation that can happen, while others pointed out many of the benefits of the new technology.

There are so many dimensions of the social web, and a graphic (the Conversation Prism by Brian Solis on that identified 22 dimensions.

Kirsten's podcaset started as a radio show at UC Davis, then they started a Web site, then iTunes came along that allowed people to subscribe easier and provided a place for podcasts to sotr of gather centrally, now Kirsten has a personal blog, and the next step seems to be video podcasting. Kirsten accepts advertising, gets donations from listeners, sells memorabilia, etc. to make money. The show is an hour long. It's science news, interviews, other items and broadcast once a week.

She's also done Food Science and Rad Science, video productions that were created as original content for the Web. Rad Science was made for PopSiren and Food Science was made for

Making it Social:
Back to the Conversation Prism. LinkedIn, facebook, MySpace are all networks Kirsten is on. She also uses many of the other platforms, including; a free site for building sites, podcasts, etc.;, that provides for a video conversation;;, you can call from your cell phone and record an audio file;, which allows Kirsten to upload her video to that one site and it will send that video out to multiple other sites;;, allows conversations of up to 300 people for audio conferencing; is a video version of talkshoe.

Connect with Kirsten at:; Dr. Kiki on Twitter; Kirsten Sanford on facebook

Friday, September 12, 2008

Communicators of Achievement

Well, NFPW has a new Communicator of Achievement to join the ranks who have earned the honor before. Actually, we have two.

This year, the organization awarded a posthumous COA to Cary Herz of New Mexico, who died earlier this month. Cary learned of the honor just weeks before her death. The members of the New Mexico delegation accepted Cary's pendant and other gifts on behalf of her family.

Clara Cartrette, a founding member of the North Carolina affiliate is our co-2008 COA. Clara began working in the women's department of the Whiteville News-Reporter 47 years ago. Now, she's the news editor with no plans to retire.

Our COA runner-up is Judi Buehrer of Colorado. Judy wasn't in Idaho. She's recuperating from a week in the hospital being treated for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Let's eat!

Food, food, food.

As we sat down for lunch, Cori and I realized we hadn't told or shown you any of the food we're enjoying. Our conferences always have good food.

Lunch today was sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission. So we ate squash, right? Nope, a potato bar.

We also had a wonderful guest chef share tips for cooking Idaho spuds complete with a demonstration and free autographed copies of his newest cookbook. Both Cori and I took pics, and we'll load them later so you can see.

Thursday night's meal was a good old Western barbecue. It was "mixed grill," so we had pork spareribs, chicken and carved beef, along with spicy corn, yummy baked beans and strawberry shortcake for dessert. The salads on the buffet included the same Greek salad we had for lunch -- black olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, arthichoke hearts and feta cheese in a Greek viniagrette. I love that salad.

The Shilo Inn, our conference hotel, prepared well for Thursday's lunch. The conference technically hadn't started, so no meals were planned. The hotel offered a buffet of lasagna, meatballs and chicken teriyaki... along with those great salads.

Remember, I had lunch with delegates from Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri? Well, Jan Denham of Missouri told the hotel we had a group that wanted to eat together, so they pulled some tables for us... in a separate little dining room. They were so accomodating on really short notice.

In fact, Teri Ehresman and Cathy Koon, co-conference chairs, have done a super job planning this shindig. Kitty Fleischman was in charge of sponsorships and fundraising, and Peggy Parks is conference treasurer and was in charge of pre-tours. They're all members of Media Network Idaho and collectively known as the Fearsome Four.

Anyone who's tried to plan a one-day state conference (Jenni, Becky, Carl, Jill?) have a small idea of what they've gone through. They've done a great job.

Well, I'm off to dress to the nines for the COA banquet. We'll let you know who earned the 2008 national honor.

Re-making newspapers to survive this historic population change?

NFPW presentation by Dean Miller, Idaho Falls

Newspapers have never had more readers, we're just not getting paid for those eyeballs that see our stuff.

Obituary report from Carole Olsen:
2001: $58, 430
2002: $66,693
2004: $86, 364
These numbers reference paid obituaries, and these are one of the most popular parts of the paper and the income pays for a lot of things at the paper, but each of those obits is a dying reader.
We've always thought that people grow into reading the paper, but are we really? Scarborough Report: If you take all the consumers born in the same year, the percentage of readers doesn't change over time. In other words, people aren't going to start reading a paper if they aren't doing it earlier in their lives. (Source: Simmons, 1967 and 1999 Scarborough Report Top 50 DMA Markets)
Reader's rank topics in their preference, and we aren't giving them as much of the content as a percentage of the paper as would fit the topics' ranks. 22-minute-a-day readers are totally dedicated readers.
Readership data is available on the Web at the Northwestern University Readership Management site.
"In the United States, white people are old people and old people are white people." We need to study young readers to understand how readers (potential readers) look at the world.
Experience-based marketing is needed for our purposes as well:
No. 1 reason readers come back: It looks our for my civic and personal interests.
Biggest turnoff: There's too much information (too many pages, too many special sections, tries to cover too much, articles are too long). No. 2 turnoff: stories that discriminate or stereotype minorities.
These strongly impact the 18-34 age group.
Newspapers are the slowest institution to change, and we haven't kept up with changes in readers' habits. Change is a skill that can be taught, and we need to learn how to manage change. It's OK to make mistakes and change back.
Strongly encourage you to subscribe to a magazine called "The Week." Miller's interest in and knowledge about international news grows from reading smaller tidbits.
There are so many free sources for big national and international stories, that why would Miller spend the money to put it in his local paper. And why would he want a 22-year-old copy editor making decisions about stories about what's happening in Georgia with Russia?
We have to communicate in the ways people now take in content.
The era of the left-brainers is over. Photos, videos are more provocative and creative. A mug shot can increase readership of a story by 40%. Photos are looked at first, then cutlines, then headlines, then the text (and no one ever reads the byline). There needs to be a cliffhanger at the jump to get people to turn the page.
Four things going forward that we will be dealing with:
Transparency: don't hide, divulge and explain and link to values (post government documents)
Searchability: Get what they want in the form they want
Speed: On their schedule . . . i.e. red box vs. netflix
Mode: scanenrs vs. methodical users; audio vs. video vs. print
Two useful books: "Usability Engineering" by Jakob Nielsen (; "Pure Design" by Mario R. Garcia

Miller's paper in Idaho puts each year's ethics report on the WEb for readers. This is a personal ethics report by each staffer at the paper for their activities over the past year. For example, Miller's wife ran for and won a position on the local school board and it was posted on the site so readers would know the connection.

*audacity software online (free) is a great audio editor and easy to use

Miller is looking for freelancers that can offer packages for all types of readers

First two words of headline are the entire game online-avoid "the" as the first word

Web breaking news can be the what where who (and when), but the paper story will probably be a more second-day story that fills in the why and how.

The beauty of this day and age is that we can communicate with a much broader audience than ever before; we just have to figure out how to pay for it.

A new day

OK, I've got a good breakfast in me and a cold diet Coke in hand. That means I'm awake and feeling refreshed. I've also followed my own advice and tackled the hardest chore first -- photographs. I've put an album together and posted it to my Facebook profile as well as the Kansas Professional Communicators group on FB.

For those of you without Facebook accounts, you can see the pics here.

Finally, a quick housekeeping note. Usually, I'd use some shorthand when writing to KPC members. But word has spread through the conference that Cori Dodds and I are blogging, so we may have some readers who don't know us. So... I'll try to follow good journalistic style and spell out all acronyms and use full names on first reference.

Now, back to yesterday's membership meeting. I won't keep you in suspense. The $20 dues increase proposed by the national board passed on an 88-3 vote. I've already told you we spent more than an hour on this issue alone.

We heard impassioned pleas from longtime members Charlotte Schexnayder of Arkansas (later recognized for 55 years of membership) and Marj Carpenter of Texas. Both remembered the days when the only work they could get on newspapers was the women's pages. World War II (and no men to fill the editor's chair) propelled Charlotte into a career that saw her and her late husband build Clarion Publishing Co. in Dumas, Ark.

Marj, meanwhile, pushed to cover cops and city government, but remained on the society pages until the time she placed a holder name in a wedding account, waiting for the bride to call and fill in the name. In those days, hot type had to be set ahead. The bride didn't call; Marj forgot to check again and John Porkchop of Pocatello, Idaho, remained an usher in the wedding. Marj was covering cops the next day and never looked back!

For we younger women at the conference, it was clear that women like Marj and Charlotte paved the way for what we've been able to do (and often take for granted). Both Marj and Charlotte urged us to keep the organization going so others can stand on our shoulders.

Although the vote was overwhelmingly in favor, it was not without express opposition. As instructed by our KPC board, I voiced the support of the Kansas affiliate for the dues increase, but asked that the board not wait another 20 years for the next increase. You told me that you preferred smaller increases consistently over time rather than a large increase every few decades.

The Michigan president, meanwhile, told the group that her affiliate opposed the increase, given the economic conditions in that state. In fact, the affiliate in on the verge of folding, and there's a good chance that the higher dues may mean the 20 members from Michigan end up not renewing.

I was surprised. I know that we in Kansas wring our hands periodically about how to recruit members and keep the members we have vested in the organization. But I didn't realize we had affiliates close to folding. Gwen Smith, a past NFPW president, shared that the North Carolina affiliate will be meeting in a month to address just that question.

Wow. I guess we in Kansas should stop and say thanks that we have 97 members. We still, however, have to work on making sure all of us realize the value we get from our state and national organizations.

And that's exactly what attending a national convention can give you. Idaho is my second national conference. My first was Kentucky in 2004, the year the communications contest drew me in. Before that, I'd never heard of KPC or NFPW.

When you're at a national conference, you meet so many interesting people. Last night, Cori, Jane Lee and I shared a table with Cathy Petrini, a Virginia member and fiction author; Allison Stein of Kansas City, Mo; Cheryl Kohout, Arizona affiliate president and two other Arizona members. (Sorry, I forgot to look closely enough at their nametags... and I'm terrible at remembering names.)

Cathy, it turns out, lives blocks away from where Greg and I had an apartment for three years shortly after we married and before we returned to my native state. And she's known Allison for years because they've collaborated on writing projects together. (Actually, I was shocked to find Allison wearing a 20-year member ribbon. I would have sworn she was only in her 20s and should have a "first timer" ribbon on like Cori's.)

And on that note: two folks so far have thought I'm 10 years younger than I am. I LOVE going to conference! It's honestly fun to interact without all the labels we wear in our other lives. All of you who know me know I'm in my 40s with three boys, age 11, 13 and 15. I really can't hide my age from you (and don't really care to.)

But here in Idaho, we connect on a myriad of levels. Remember the old jokes during college days where your "name, rank and serial number" became name, class and major? Well, here, it's name, state and profession. From there, we move into whether we have kids, how old they are and any other commonalities.

It's six degrees of separation, after all, with the NFPW link to open the door.

We ended our meeting with recognition of membership anniversaries, beginning with 25 years. Kansas members were included. Becky Funke, Joy Patton and Penny Wika were recognized for 25 years; Linda Jerke and Margaret Klenke for 35 years. Again, it reinforced that we don't meet often enough to get to know each other. In my four years in KPC, I've served on the board with Becky and Linda, but I don't believe I've ever met Joy, Penny or Margaret.

Well, diet Coke or no, my brain is hitting fuzz stage so I'm about to sign off. Cori showed up and is writing a column for the Eagle before we head downstairs for the 11 a.m. sessions. We're both headed to the Newspaper Survival in a Technology World with Dean Miller, executive editor of the Idaho Falls Post Register.

I'm really interested in meeting Dean because Idaho Falls was one of the first newspapers to give the Associated Press its required two-year notice of cancellation when the rate-structure changed. I'd love to hear how they're going to replace AP copy in the paper. It's an issue facing many smaller newspapers... the best use of our resources for our readers.

During lunch, our organizers have come up with a unique program... different folks have volunteered to coordinate table topics, so you sit at the table with the topic you want to talk about. I'm going to the state membership table with Marilyn Saltzman of Colorado. I'm hoping to pick up some great ideas for Nancy Lucas, our first vice-president for membership on recruitment and retention.

Cori's headed to the successful COA nominations table with Eva Marie Peason and Carol Sanders Reiner of Arkansas. We'd certainly love to see another Kansas member named national Communicator of Achievement. And tonight, Cori, Jane and I will be holding bated breaths for Liz Kennedy, our Kansas COA nominee. Liz couldn't make it to conference this year, but she's here in spirit.

Well gang, that's all for now. Check out the pics and check back for more updates later.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meeting, greeting and trivia, oh my!

Wow, what a busy afternoon and evening. But first a quick note.

Cori Dodds, president of Wichita Professional Communicators, the sole organized chapter of KPC, is also going to be posting on the blog. We'll both have fun sharing our impressions. Cori, by the way, is an Idaho native, so some of her perspective of the area will be different from mine (not as much ooohing and aaahing perhaps).

She did take some beautiful pics on the Riverwalk this afternoon. Meanwhile, I'm struggling with the pics I've taken today. Will probably work on them in the morning.

Back to today's action.

My day started by sharing lunch with folks attending from Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri affiliates. We discovered that we share the same struggles with active groups of members in a central urban area with our remaining members spread across our states. How do we help all of our members feel connected to the whole? What kinds of programs do we offer to reach our members?

We spent much of our time discussing how we could reach out to each other. Colorado and New Mexico worked together a few years ago on a meeting in Taos that both affiliate members attended. Given geography, it's always possible that events organized by Colorado might appeal to our western Kansas members (and may be closer than something we might plan on the eastern side of our own state). On the other hand, something in the Kansas City area could appeal to western Missouri members and eastern Nebraska members.

We made no firm commitment except to make sure we extend invitations beyond our own borders.

Next on my agenda today was a leadership meeting with national board members and affiliate presidents or their representatives. We discussed the proposed dues increase and also shared information about our affiliates and what's worked.

It brought up some interesting ideas, as well as facts. Missouri, for instance, has affiliate meetings nine months out of the year, September through May. They meet for programs and Saturday brunch in St. Louis where the bulk of the membership is. Ohio chooses interesting venues throughout the state for its regular meetings, such as the First Ladies museum in Canton.

My thought was, "Wow, Kansas members meet once a year." Hmmm, are we doing enough for our members?

Right now, my brain is shutting down and screaming for the bed behind me. I'll talk about the membership meeting and our trivia competition -- and post pictures -- in the morning.