Dec 08, 2014
The 2014 Toastmasters Public Speaking World Champion vs. leading CEOs: Who is the better communicator?
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that helps its members improve their public speaking and leadership skills. Every year, the organization holds an international competition in which experienced public speakers present their speeches to a panel of Toastmasters judges. The final contestants must progress to the top by winning their local club, area, district and semifinal competitions based on their speech content, organization, voice quality and gestures.
This year, Dananjaya Hettiarachchi of Sri Lanka won the competition with his entry, I See Something. In this motivational speech, Mr. Hettiarachchi describes how the important people in his life saw something in him, inspiring him to go from a kid who had recently been arrested to an adult with a successful career.
What is it about his speech that won him the championship? And how does he compare to chief executives giving keynote presentations in the corporate world?
In order to answer these questions, we used our communication analytics to objectively analyze Mr. Hettiarachchi’s speech. We then compared his results to speeches from the hundreds of CEOs in our communications database.
Nov 26, 2014
We are pleased to share our first TED-Ed lesson, The Language of Lying.
Nov 04, 2014
Are elections won by the most “negative” candidate? A 2014 study from Cambridge University found a connection between a person’s political views and the strength of their negativity bias – that is, their tendency to respond more strongly to negative than positive information. With the 2014 midterm elections happening today, we decided to analyze the language of political candidates to learn whether there is a significant difference in how the parties talk about major issues.
According to the Cambridge study, the negativity bias is a spectrum – some people respond more strongly to negative events than others – and conservatives are more likely to have a strong negativity bias. For example, conservatives are more likely to support strict punishments for criminals and defense spending in order to avoid threats to safety.
Negative language is influential not just in politics but in other forms of communication. Studies of negativity bias and relationships have found that healthy couples must be able to list five positive things about each other for each negative observation. Media studies have found a negative to positive news report ratio of seventeen to one. Academic research found the highest-performing business teams offered each other, on average, 5.6 positive comments as feedback for every criticism. As much as we pretend otherwise, negative language can have a lot of impact.
We were curious whether a strong negativity bias is reflected in communication styles, and whether negativity bias could be an accurate predictor for election results.
Jun 19, 2014
June 19, 2014
May 31, 2014
May 31, 2014
It’s no secret that we love to share links to stories, videos, or pictures that capture our attention with others online. Studies show that 59% of people report frequently forwarding information found on the internet, and it is estimated that someone tweets a link to a New York Times story once every 4 seconds.
Our impulse to share is especially relevant today because we get our news from evolving media sources. Cultivating readership is crucial to staying prominent. In its leaked report on innovation last week, The New York Times revealed plans to form teams specifically focused on audience development, analytics and strategy, and a digital first strategy.
So we wondered, can you use analytics to predict potential audience development? Why does some content make you immediately want to hit share, while other content goes no further than your screen? Can we identify the language components that make content go viral and on what platform readers will share?
Mar 26, 2014
Wonderful to see our analytics in the Wall Street Journal!
Why Likability Matters More at Work
Likability Is More Important—and Harder to Pull Off—on Video
By Sue Shellenbarger
Is the workplace becoming more like high school?
"Likability" is becoming a bigger factor for success at work as social networks and videoconferencing grow. The impact goes beyond a high-school popularity contest. The ability to come across as likable is shaping how people are sized up and treated by bosses and co-workers.
Likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others and have mistakes forgiven. A study of 133 managers last year by researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that if an auditor is likable and gives a well-organized argument, managers tend to comply with his suggestions, even if they disagree and the auditor lacks supporting evidence.
Likability is more important—and harder to pull off—on video than in person. Sometimes this can result in a style-over-substance effect. People watching a speaker on a videoconference are more influenced by how much they like the speaker than by the quality of the speaker's arguments, according to a 2008 study in Management Science. The opposite is true when a speaker appears in person. The use of personal videoconferencing is expected to grow 47% annually through 2017, according to Wainhouse Research, a Boston market-research firm.
Jan 17, 2014
Exciting to see our analytics in the Wall Street Journal!
What’s in a word? Company grades Yellen, Fed chiefs communication skills
By Victoria McGrane
One of the most important jobs of the Federal Reserve leader is public communication, and much ink has been spilled assessing Janet Yellen’s abilities and challenges ahead in this area.
Quantified Communications, an Austin, Texas, communications-analytics firm, took a different tack. They measured the Fed’s incoming chairwoman’s skills against her predecessors – Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker – in three categories that matter a lot to audiences: clarity, credibility and confidence.
Oct 17, 2013
After seeing the Wall Street Journal article, How 'Power Poses' Can Help Your Career, one reader wrote in asking how to use a powerful posture while in a wheelchair. The following is the author's response, including analytics and advice from Quantified Communications.
Getting Attention and Respect, from a Chair
Sue Shellenbarger answers readers' questions
Q: I've been handicapped for years, but just started using a wheelchair. Your article on how striking a power pose can help one feel and perform better struck a chord. Being seated feels submissive to me, especially if others are standing at a social event. Any suggestions?
—J.L., Brighton, Mich.
Sep 26, 2013
By Noah Zandan and Carrie Goldberger
September 26, 2013
Steve Jobs was known as one of the most charismatic public speakers in history. He successfully created such a buzz around new products during his keynote speeches that it became common for people to line up for hours outside an Apple store to purchase the latest products. With the passing of Steve Jobs, many people wondered what would become of Apple. Would Tim Cook be able to create the same communications buzz around new products?
Sep 19, 2013
By Noah Zandan and Carrie Goldberger
It is no secret that user reviews greatly influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. According to a study from Harvard Business School, a one-star increase on Yelp, a popular rating website, led to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue for businesses. How do you know when a review is fake? Many of the largest user review websites, like Yelp and Amazon.com, are trying to come up with automated ways to eliminate fake reviews. But how effective are their algorithms? How many authentic reviews are thrown out in the process?