Quantified’s Favorite Communication Stats

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Key Statistics from Our Research on Communication & Human Connection

At Quantified, we’re obsessed with identifying the human behaviors — and particularly those subconscious or habitual signals we send — that drive audience perception and shape human connection. Over the years, we’ve undertaken significant research to measure those behaviors with the goal of helping professionals understand and improve the impact of their communication. This page highlights fifteen of our favorite findings, paired with recommended resources for further learning.

Inclusive leaders use 36% more language that is personalized to their audience than the average senior leader.

In a study we conducted on how leadership communication supports or detracts from commitments to inclusion in the workplace, we found that inclusive leaders personalize their communications for the audience more frequently than the average senior leader. In other words, they make an effort to put their audiences first and adapt messages to their needs, values, interests, and demographic makeup of the people who are listening.

To accomplish this, take the time to understand your audience, and adjust your messaging accordingly. What language, anecdotes, references, or examples will they relate to? Additionally, remember that your audience’s perspective may be different from your own, and failing to think about your audience’s point of view may make a message unrelatable, tone deaf, and likely to cause feelings of resentment rather than unity. Consider running key presentations past a trusted colleague or advisor who can act as a sounding board and listen specifically for signals of inclusivity (or lack thereof) in your language.

Learn more about how inclusive leaders communicate

Visionary communicators speak 15% more about today and 14% less about the future.

“Visionary communication” brings to mind vibrant pictures of a better tomorrow, and a future full of new and incredible possibilities. We were surprised to find that the most distinguishing factor of visionaries’ communication is how much they speak about the present.

It’s a subtle distinction but the reality is, when you use the present tense to announce your vision, something else happens: you’re forced to discuss the how, and the vision evolves from empty bluster to actual, credible plans. What are you doing now to achieve that vision? What are you doing right now to prepare for the transition from SUVs to flying cars? It’s this nuance that makes all the difference for the audience, turning a vision for tomorrow into a project for today.

Learn how to speak like a visionary.

Innovative communicators use 22% less persuasive language than their counterparts.

In a study of what makes communicators appear innovative, this finding surprised us, so we dug in. Persuasive language is made up of three types of appeals: logic, instinct, and emotion. Or head, gut, and heart. We measure persuasion based on these three categories, and when we drilled down into the score, we found that the drop was a result of the innovators using very few appeals to the gut, which include references to experience, awards, and achievements meant to build credibility with unfamiliar audiences.

In appeals to the head and the heart, however, the innovators outperformed their counterparts. This means they’re peppering their communication with data points and statistics for logically minded people and using narrative, emotional language to keep the audience alert and engaged.

The takeaway? If you want to be perceived as an innovative communicator — especially if your audience is already familiar with you and your work — don’t lean on credibility-building arguments. Instead, focus on your ideas and let your innovation speak for itself.

Learn more about innovative communication

On video calls73% of audiences find speakers who use their own space for their backgrounds to be more trustworthy.

While some people use virtual backgrounds to maintain privacy or create the illusion of a more professional environment, our research found that using the actual room they’re in makes speakers appear more trustworthy (73% of respondents agreed) and authentic (65% of respondents agreed) than using a fake background. So what parts of the room do audiences want to see? 44% of survey respondents prefer to see a wall with books or bookshelves behind the speaker, while 34% prefer framed décor such as art, diplomas, or photographs.

Learn more about the perfect setup — from your background to your attire — for an effective video call.

Speakers make 20% less eye contact and employ 13% fewer pauses in virtual presentations as opposed to live.

This is a significant skills gap we uncovered in our research on what makes great video communication, but we can’t really blame communicators! When our audiences are online rather than in the room with us, it can feel awkward to talk to our computer screens, and this discomfort showed in our data.

Practice looking directly into the camera while speaking in order to give the impression that you’re looking directly at your audience. And resist the temptation to read from a script, as that will make your presentation feel stilted and inauthentic. Remember that there are humans behind your camera, and allow them to see and hear how passionate you are about the message you’re sharing.

Learn more about the virtual communication trends that are transforming the way we connect personally and professionally.

Virtual speeches are, on average, 28% more personalized and 10% more inclusive than their in-person counterparts.

Watching a speech over Zoom from your living room rather than listening to it live in a room full of people is a solitary experience versus a communal one. When presenting virtually, speakers can close this fundamental gap by tailoring the message to their audience and intentionally including them in the conversation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when we analyzed the differences between virtual communication events and their in-person predecessors, we were thrilled to see that speakers were already doing just that. Not sure how to make your communication more personalized and inclusive? When writing a virtual speech, keep these questions in mind: Who is my audience, why does this matter to them, and how can I include them in my message to keep them from getting distracted — and opening up a new browser window? 

See more differences (and similarities) between virtual and in-person communication trends.

Senior leaders are 14% more effective at avoiding fillers than the average professional.

In research we conducted on the communication skills gaps that separate senior leaders from the average professional, we found a significant improvement in senior leaders’ ability to control their use of filler words. These are the unnecessary words, sounds, or phrases (like “um,” “er,” and “ah”) that we use almost subconsciously when we’re nervous, distracted, or at a loss for what to say next.

Learn how to eliminate filers from your communication.

Senior leaders organize their communication 12% more effectively than the average professional.

Organization refers to the structure and flow of content. A well-organized message is easy for audiences to follow, while a haphazard structure may cause listeners’ attention to wander. When you’re organizing a message for your audience, consider a thesis statement, topic sentences, and supporting statements.

Ensure coherence by creating an outline before writing the message, by previewing and then restating each main point, and by using transitional phrases and signposting to guide your audience along as you deliver your message.

Learn more tips for mastering critical communication skills like organization.

When it comes to persuasion, the world’s greatest leaders put logic last, using 2.9x more appeals to emotion and 3.4x more appeals to intuition.

When we looked at the language the world’s greatest leaders use to persuade audiences, we expected to see a combination of the three classic persuasive appeals: logic, instinct, and emotion, or head, gut, and heart. After all, a speaker’s job in crafting a persuasive argument is to understand the audience’s needs and create the right blend of appeals to head, gut, and heart to meet those needs. But Fortune’s Greatest Leaders use an unexpected blend. This preference for emotional and intuition-driven language was universal among the leaders on Fortune’s list, from politicians and corporate leaders to activists, journalists, and artists.

Learn more about how the world’s greatest leaders make persuasive arguments.

The most authentic communicators are 50% more passionate than their peers.

In a study of communication trends among Fortune 100 CEOs, we found a strong connection between passion and perceived authenticity. This means they’re allowing their emotions — how they truly feel about the subject matter at hand — to shine through in the way they communicate. The words they say, their vocal patterns, and even their gestures and facial expressions become vehicles for expressing their passion for the topic. This leads to the feeling leaders aren’t simply paying lip service to the message or putting on a “persona” but that they’re communicating their true interests and values with a formal audience in the same way they might with a friend over coffee.

Learn more about authentic communication.

“CEO activists” use 37% more trustworthy language than the average leader.

In a study on CEO activism exploring how corporate leaders communicate about social and political issues (and how they can do so more effectively), one of our key findings was that these “activist communications” are significantly more trustworthy than the average executive communication. The trustworthiness of a communication is measured on factors like the speaker’s ability to provide the audience with a comprehensive understanding of key points, and to take ownership of the message through personalized, active language.

Learn more about communicating effectively on social and political issues

Messages including apt, well-crafted stories are 21% more memorable and 35% more persuasive than the average communication in the Quantified database.

Stories make communication much more impactful, in large part because of the neurological impact they have on our listeners. At first blush, professional communication may not seem ripe for storytelling, but that’s not true. Your next financial presentation isn’t exactly Oscar material, and your quarterly progress report is far from the Great American Novel, but that doesn’t mean they have to be dull, dry recitations of facts. Think about how you can wrap your key points into short narratives by introducing the inspiration behind a new corporate policy, the team members that stepped up and made a difference in a recent initiative, and the efforts that led to your success (or failure).

Learn more about the power of storytelling.

On average, women use 44% more first-person pronouns than men.

When we compared the speech patterns of women and men in the Quantified database, we found that women use significantly more first-person pronouns than men do. These first-person pronouns help speakers build trust by indicating that they’re willing to take accountability for their messages.

To learn more about communication patterns that indicate whether a speaker is trustworthy, watch CEO Noah Zandan’s TEDEd lesson, “The Language of Lying.”

The clearest communicators are 18% more likeable than the average communicator.

If you’ve ever sat through a presentation that was disorganized, jumbled, full of jargon, and impossible to follow along, we’d bet this stat doesn’t surprise you. It’s difficult to like a speaker who isn’t clear. But what makes for clear communication? A key part of it is the sentence structures and word choices you use. No matter how intelligent your audience, they’ll have a much easier time internalizing and acting on your message if you use concise, familiar language, precise details, and transitional language to help them follow your train of thought.

See clarity in action from three legendary CEOs.

Successful communication can be broken down into four primary categories comprising 24 key components.

When it comes to effective communication, there’s a lot to consider, and it can be difficult to know where to start or how you’re doing. At Quantified, we make it easy by breaking down effective communication into the 24 behavioral components that make up vocal deliver, visual delivery, message content, and audience perception. Then we roll those four key categories into the QC Score: a single number that provides the definitive measure of how influential you are as a communicator.

Learn more about the QC Score here, and when you’re ready to learn more about the Quantified platform and process, we invite you to request a demo!