Speech Seminar: Nonverbal Communication Skills in Intercultural Settings

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This essay reviews a wonderful speech by Rae Ann Ianniello about nonverbal communication skills in intercultural settings, which was delivered at Ohlone College on Oct. 1, 2010, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. According to Professor Ianniello’s speech, she first explained how culture dictates one’s nonverbal behaviors and mannerisms. One’s communicative behaviors are largely dependent on the culture in one has been raised. She imagines that culture is like an iceberg which has a visible section above the water and a vast, invisible section below the water. Thus, we can observe nonverbal behaviors in different cultures in order to improve our communication skills, but we may not be able to observe the huge, invisible aspects of that culture unless we were raised in that culture. Professor Ianniello then identified different types of nonverbal communication such as social distance, touching, voice, gesture, and eye contact. A lot of personal examples were used to demonstrate how these nonverbal behaviors differ in different cultures. She also explored functions of nonverbal communication, such as complementing, repeating, contradicting, and replacing people’s verbal messages. Professor Ianniello finally developed a deeper sense of appreciation for our unique differences through the observation, study, and understanding of nonverbal communication styles in different cultures. Overall, Professor Ianniello demonstrated a lot of strong speech techniques, which made her speech even more attractive and persuasive. For example, in the beginning, she captured our attention by asking: “how do you say hello in your culture?” She often used personal examples to relate to the topic and kept the audience involved throughout the presentation by asking questions or encouraging discussion. She also used large body movement and gestures to help keeping audience attention. The speech was well-delivered throughout this one hour seminar. I thoroughly enjoyed it because I learned both...
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