It is always easier to sit through a two hour popular TV show than a mere than minute lecture session. While the former falls within the realm of what is generally regarded as re-creative, captivating, engaging and sometimes intimate, the latter is often frowned upon as a boring and tasteless experience. Curiously, a TV show and a lecture session are both punctuated by the elements of verbal and non-verbal cues that aid and facilitate communication. Nonetheless, it’s the distinctive features in terms of style, presentation techniques and individual demeanors that makes the difference by making the one attractive to the audience and the other uninteresting. Therefore, one of the key factors in communication strategy is the ‘flavor and color’ that the speaker adds into the communication process so as to capture audience interest and effectively, convey the message more effectively (Greer and Marie, 2009). Consequently, the ‘facts-only’ approach that usually occasions a formal classroom experience lacks the substance of appeal that is ever present in popular TV shows, which makes them so addictive to the audience. Thus, an element of dramatic presentation becomes necessary in such situations to create a rapport with the audience to sustain their interest and and facilitate communication (Lincoln, 2008).
It is no wonder then that the TV game show Deal or No Deal by famous presenter Noel Edmonds is such a sensational hits among millions of fans worldwide. Likewise, for a long time, CBS veteran news presenter, Walter Cronkite, commanded great authority in the airwaves and the trust of many Americans as far as ‘breaking the breaking-news to the world’ went. Despite the fact that both programs belong to different genres and have contrasting target goals, they nonetheless share a commonality in the way are ‘spiced up’, so to speak, by their respective presenters. Media savviness and personality features that characterize the uniqueness of their presentation notwithstanding, they exhibit a distinctive canniness ability to simultaneously manipulate verbal and non-verbal cues to make a visible impact upon the audience, such as body movements (Fortunati, 2005, 55). Most importantly however, their success at communication is determined by the ability to take into account the various concepts of communication that influences the receivership of messages, and effectively employing communication techniques in their presentation. The paper examines how the use of communication concepts promotes effective communication, and by extension, how they can be applied in business practices.
Deal or No Deal involves a great deal of money, actually, but you never get to pocket it until you have a deal. Like common business contract and deal making scenarios, the game show presents a situation of wits, risk taking, ambition, calculation and timing to make the best possible deal. However, unlike real business deals, the show is characterized by suspense, individual audacity to gamble and the nerve to endure the loss. All these aspects are reflected in the actors’ demeanor and antics to outwit the other. Consider the character of the Banker, the man who ostensibly owns the money, and is desperate to buy you out before you hit the ultimate prize. From the onset of the game, it is made clear that among the several boxes, there is one containing the prize money. The concept of dressing sends clear signals that big money is in town. The Banker is usually dressed in expensive tailor suits, which can even make a new comer to point out the man with all the money. His overall attire, as one friend likes to put it, “literally stinks of big money.” This is due to the stereotyping culture which associates appearance with connotative meanings such as expensive clothes and affluence, and the trust accorded well-dressed people (Cardon, 2010). Perhaps this is what cultivates confidence among the contestants that the deal is as genuine as one that is crafted in Wall Street. Interesting enough, the prize box does not contain hard cash that the lucky winner can claim. On the contrary, it contains only a value written over it. A comparison of this aspect with the use of checks in making payments draws an important conclusion about the importance of nonverbal cues in business communication. The first impression created by the participants through their mode of dressing inspires confidence, such that a written document representing a certain amount of money is accepted by another party. That, as it were, is the power of an Armani suit.
The contestants’ fervor to stay put until the end, and the often displayed determination to remain firm ‘come what may’ is informed by the possibility of winning big-time. This foreknowledge that there is something worthy taking a risk for encourages the contestant to insist that there is “No Deal” with the offered money, and in turn makes the Banker to either raise his bidding or convince the contestant that it is the best deal he could get. In this regard, the key aspect of the show in relation to communication concepts is the Banker’s use of a combination of non-verbal and verbal cues such as facial expressions and hushed, gentle ‘advise-giving’ tone to subtly suggest to the contestant and audience- in a deceptive manner, in fact, that the contestant will lose if he/she insists to their No Deal stance. For instance, the Banker offers $100 000 and the contestant blurts out “No Deal! At this point, the game is nearing its end, and the contestant is at the verge of either winning or losing. At the same time, the Banker is aware that the chances of winning are higher than otherwise, but his job is to make the contestant doubt the possibility of a win, shake their confidence a little and in effect make them take the offered deal. So the banker feigns surprise- apparently, with a frown, shakes his head and gently asks the contestant, “You refuse 100 grand for the unknown, and probably to lose out everything?” and then raising the voice for the audience exclaims, “This is incredible!” eventually, it pays out and the deal is accepted. It is not that the Banker’s claims are true or his concerns for the contestant genuine, although this is what the contestant believes! The underlying influence is the paralinguistic approach: the way he says it, such that he sounds truly honest and sincere. In this respect, non-verbal cues such as facial expressions serves to complement what is verbally said, and in effect promote effective communication.
“That is the Way it Is” was Walter Cronkite’s parting shot after a news session. The catchy phrase, said with convincing confidence and inspirational honesty characterized Cronkite’s style of news reportage, which in turn inspired great trust among most American audience. It has been said that the phrase become more popular than the Lord’s Prayer. Known for his clarity, objectivity, consistency, integrity and authority in reporting the world’s most important events, he was once declared “the only honest face on TV” (Rottenberg, 1994). This is not a statement of fact, but it nonetheless shows the effect his character had on the impressions of viewers. Honesty is not a proven trait of his personality. Regardless, his approach to issues by taking an objective perspective and presenting news with an authoritative voice signaled that ‘it is so,’ and effectively served to endear him and his message to the audience. To further strengthen audience confidence, the phrase “That is the way it is,’ said with such clarity and powerful voice portrayed a man sure of himself. This aspect is also present in the Banker’s self-confidence which suggests that there is money around and the contestant may be losing. When hundred thousand dollars are given out without flinching and with such casualness as if is like giving sweets to a kid, mesmerizes the audience and makes the game the more interesting.
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