Connecticut College Magazine · Fall 2008

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ask a camel
Frances Cole Jones ´86

Q: “How can I make a good first impression — in any situation?”

Frances Cole Jones ´86, an author and corporate coach, has the answer.

by Lauren Branchini


A: “The most important statistic I cite is from a study done by Albert Mehrabian at UCLA: People only remember 7 percent of what you say; 38 percent of the impact of what you say is tonal quality [of your voice] and 55 percent is what your body is doing while talking.

"This applies to everything you do. Even if you´re recording an outgoing voicemail message, that 38 percent — that tonal quality — determines how you´re going to be perceived.

"Once you know that 55 percent of what you say comes from physicality, you´ll understand the importance of body language. For example, just keeping your hands on the table during a meeting can help people perceive you as trustworthy. All of these factors contribute to the message you´re sending much more than the actual words you say. How you say it is all about what your body does while you say it.”

When meeting someone for the first time, Jones says, you should think about three elements of face-to-face communication:

• Words: Choose language that is colorful, yet concise. Modifiers such as “amazing,” “cool” or “good” are not memorable. A short anecdote could help you get your point across. “Something is only amazing, terrific or horrific if you tell me why,” Jones says.

• Tone of Voice: The tone of your voice should match your message. Happy to meet someone? You´ll automatically sound happier if you smile, take a deep breath and speak from your diaphragm.

• Body Language: Be conscious of your facial expressions, posture and gestures. Make sure they align with the message you´re trying to convey.

Frances Cole Jones ´86 knows the importance of a good first impression. As the founder of Cole Media Management, a company focused on improving clients´ communication skills and professional performance, Jones is an authority on how to communicate effectively.

After graduating from Connecticut College with a degree in English and a creative writing concentration, Jones edited commercial nonfiction in New York City. It was while working in publishing that she decided to start her own media management firm. “We used to hire media trainers to work with our authors,” she says, “and I would think to myself, ´Hmm. I would do this differently.´”

Today Jones helps professionals improve all aspects of their corporate communications, from speechwriting and improving presentation skills to preparing clients for television and print interviews. She put some of her best advice in her new book,
How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Presenting Your Ideas, Persuading Your Audience and Perfecting Your Image.

At Connecticut College, Jones tutored her peers in the Roth Writing Center, an experience she considers especially formative in her career both as an editor and a corporate coach. “I know that everybody can improve,” she says, “whether it´s writing skills or presentation skills.”


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