Feelings last longer than words. Make a person like you, and they are more receptive to your message.

Communicating is about so much more than mere words. There are the well-known visual aspects of voice communication. The proportion of communication which is words, tone and body language varies. This is the case for everything from private conversations to seminars and lectures.

Communication also embodies the shared understanding of the parties engaged in the conversation. This is what gives meaning to the moment, with its words, tone and body language.

Every man hears only what he understands.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections

Parties to a conversation, presentation, seminar or workshop bring their entire genetic, cultural and experience base with them. There is implicit and explicit communication. A shared experience and understanding is required to maximise the implicit communication. Militaries around the world have realised the competitive benefits of explicit communication. What is not said can say so much more than what is.

Conversations between friends, long-term colleagues and family can be of a very different nature to those of strangers. The shared experience and understanding shortcuts much. Also, trust can play a part. Those speaking can tailor their message with a high degree of accuracy to their audience.

Miscommunication can easily occur when parties bring different heritages in terms of genetics, culture and experience. Diversity can bring strength, but to communicate well there needs to be both commonality and consistency as well. There needs to be a shared language, a shared understanding.

These cognitive and non-verbal aspects have long been recognised:

It’s a mistake to pay attention only to what comes out of the mouth when we’re trying to understand what’s in the mind, because there are many, many parts of the mind that can’t talk.

Robert Kurzban, Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind

“What a man sees,” in the words of Thomas Kuhn, “depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him to see.”

Daniel Ford, A Vision So Noble: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and America’s War on Terror

What form of communication is best depends on the circumstances. What tends to work in workshops differs to what tends to work in a seminar or in a private meeting. That said, our brains are the same, irrespective of the type of meeting or information that is being exchanged.

I was beginning to learn what all good pros and students of tennis must learn: that images are better than words, showing better than telling, too much instruction worse than none, and that trying often produces negative results.

Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance

The warmth and presence of those communicating are a core part:

Being charismatic does not depend on how much time you have but on how fully present you are in each interaction.

Olivia Fox Cabane, The Charisma Myth: Master the Art of Personal Magnetism

Warmth, simply put, is goodwill toward others. Warmth tells us whether or not people will want to use whatever power they have in our favor. Being seen as warm means being perceived as any of the following: benevolent, altruistic, caring, or willing to impact our world in a positive way. Warmth is assessed almost entirely through body language and behavior; it’s evaluated more directly than power.

Olivia Fox Cabane, The Charisma Myth: Master the Art of Personal Magnetism

Generally feelings last longer than words. Make a person like you, and they are more receptive to your message. They will be more receptive then and in future meetings. Make whoever you are talking to like you:

How do you get a stranger to like you? It’s simple, actually. It starts by smiling and keeping your body language open. After that, just ask questions and listen as if you cared, all the while looking for common interests. Everyone likes to talk about his or her own life, and everyone appreciates a sympathetic listener. Eventually, if you discover some common interests, you’ll feel a connection without any effort.

Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life