Expert Q&A With

Ric Phillips

Ric Phillips received his university degree in Sociology/Psychology from Brock University in Canada, in 1996. A certified Coach and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Practitioner, Ric became Canada’s first Communication Coach in 2006. He is the author of several ebooks and articles, and is frequently called upon by the media to give expert advice on communication, public speaking technique and body language analysis.


What services does your website provide?


The website shares information on the services provided by 3V Communications, namely communication coaching, training and assessments. The site also contains media videos, articles and interviews on interpersonal communication, body language, coaching and public speaking techniques.


What was the inspiration behind your e-book ‘Effective Communication Skills’?


Effective Communication Skills

My first inspiration was to help myself organize my thoughts on effective communication skills so that when I taught skills to others, I would have a program. That developed into a workbook that I would use in workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions, and then I made it available as an ebook. It has been upgraded a couple of times since its inception in 2006, and every time I re-vamp it I add and subtract things to modify it. It is a good book for those that want to become a more effective and memorable communicator at work and in their daily social lives.


What body language gestures can one use to feel empowered?


Motion creates emotion (and vice-versa) so it’s important to understand the link between body actions and emotional state. If the goal is to feel confident and empowered, then we want to look/feel as ‘big’ as possible. This can simply mean walking/sitting upright with great posture, slightly looking up with your chin, expanding your chest or slightly tilting it upward, and having your legs and feet open at least shoulder-width.

In other words, don’t slouch, don’t avoid eye contact and/or be looking down and away, don’t concave your chest, don’t cross your arms in front of your body and don’t cross your legs while standing. Also don’t rock back and forth while standing – plant yourself like a tree. The upper body can move and sway with the rhythm of your speech, but your lower trunk should be strong and sturdy. This is a good start.


Who influenced you to pursue a career in body language?


I was always interested in human communications. I have always been an outgoing person and a talker. While in school I also got into theatre arts classes, and even won some local awards. That was my first introduction to body language. I also remember reading the (in)famous book “Body Language” by Julius Fast when I was a teen. I was hooked.

Later when I went to University to obtain my degree in Sociology/Psychology, I studied courses such as interpersonal communication skills and non-verbal communication in human interactions. This was my first introduction to the science and researchers behind the verbal and non-verbal communication studies that developed our modern day theories. I was fascinated by the work of Paul Ekman, Margaret Mead and Erving Goffman, to name a few. Since then I have continued to read books and watch videos on a variety of body language experts to further my understanding of it all.


How does having an adept understanding of body language affect your private life?


I use my understanding of body language to take an educated guess at people’s emotional states and comfort levels. As we all know body language is not a 100% science. It does help us position ourselves better in a group and it certainly made me a better listener! I want to engage with people on a personal level if possible and I not only read them to the best of my abilities, but I will consciously present myself (my body language) in a way that projects the message and emotion I’m trying to convey.

In many ways the real advantage of body language study is learning how to present yourself better in society and in particular situations. Managing yourself is easier than accurately reading others, isn't it?


What tips can you offer those who have a presentation coming up?


There are a number of things one can do to be a more effective speaker/presenter. Focusing on body language and gestures only, I would advise people to firstly get ‘things’ out of the way that provide a barrier between you and your audience. Don’t use a lectern if you don’t have to. Don’t sit or stand behind a desk or boardroom table the whole time. Walk around, at least in a semi-circle at the front, and let people see you. Don’t have your arms crossed in front of you. Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Don’t turn your back to the audience. Show your sincerity by being ‘upfront’ about your information and not hiding behind things.

This is rule number one – engage your audience from the beginning. Talk TO them – not AT them. Body language should flow from the centre point, and should be used to highlight your main points and ideas. Arms should flow in symmetrical gestures, and hands should never point a finger at anyone. Use a semi-relaxed open hand to point. Also please avoid using PowerPoint for short or small-group presentations. I say this because 90% of people out there do not use the PowerPoint tool effectively. They sit down and read dense slides that bore people to death! So if you are not trained in how to use this tool effectively then avoid it. These tips are a good starting point.


What can 3V communications coaching offer an organization?


3V Communications stands for the 3 main ways we communicate – Verbally, Vocally and Visually. What we do in our coaching and training is help people express themselves better on all 3 fronts. In this way we use a holistic approach. Organizations hire us to run on-site workshops for their staff and managers or to coach people one-on-one.

Popular topics are body language, public speaking & presentation skills, and interpersonal skills. We also offer communication assessments to help HR and recruiting departments during their candidate selection process. We also help professional immigrants and foreign workers advance their career, because we have specialized training in teaching ESL (English as a Second Language).


What have you got planned for the rest of 2012?


We are going to improve the look and flow of the website, and offer new programs that are geared toward key industries like telecommunications, finance, law, policing and real estate. I personally am going to edit current ebooks and workbooks and add a couple of new ones to the iBookstore and Nook bookstore. Audio/Visual products will also be outlined and hopefully released near the end of the year. It’s a year of clearer focus for myself and 3V Communications!


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Ric Phillips on CP 24/City News analyzing the body language and public speaking techniques on display during the Canadian Federal Leaders' Debate from April 12 2011.


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