The Take Home from Spielberg’s Harvard Commencement Speech ?

In Brain, Relationships by DC McGuireLeave a Comment

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The Nielsen Company, reports that on average American adults spend 11 hours every day with electronic media. That’s 11 hours of the day with our eyes glued to screens, leaving us short on essential information – the kind we need to accurately understand and communicate with each other.

Albert Mehrabian, UCLA professor, and an expert in the field of communications has discovered that, “. . . when we are talking with others we give and receive information that is more accurate if we pay attention to almost everything else but the words.” It is our voices and bodies that carry our messages.

 Visual Communication: posture and gestures, facial expression, and eye contact – 55% of message

Vocal Communication: intonation, projection, pitch and speed of our voice – 38% of message

Verbal Communication: the words? Not much – a meager 7% of message

If words are good for communicating only 7% of any message, all the emoticons in the world still leave emails, texts, and tweets missing 93% of their meaning.

In his speech at Harvard’s 2016 Commencement Speech, Steven Spielberg urged graduates:

“Please never lose eye contact. This may not be a lesson you want to hear from a person who creates media, but we are spending more time looking down at our devices than we are looking in each other’s eyes. So, forgive me, but let’s start right now. Everyone here, please find someone’s eyes to look into. Students, and alumni and you too, President Faust, all of you, turn to someone you don’t know or don’t know very well. They may be standing behind you, or a couple of rows ahead. Just let your eyes meet. That’s it. That emotion you’re feeling is our shared humanity mixed in with a little social discomfort.

But, if you remember nothing else from today, I hope you remember this moment of human connection.”


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