FROM time to time, we come across articles and videos expounding the powerful effects of words.

However, when communicating face-to-face, words alone may not amount to much in normal conversation.

Participants in Mesra Malaysia, a training programme by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, would learn that the tone of voice or vocal component is an important element in interpersonal-communication. This is because the same word uttered differently can have opposite meanings. Even for those trying to convey the same meaning, the effect can be vastly different.

A good example is singing the lyrics of a same song. Those who can afford live shows will pay a hefty sum to watch their favourite singers perform live, but may be deterred from watching a bad singer singing the same song, unless it is so horrible that it becomes hilarious and entertaining.

The other component in interpersonal- communication is non-verbal or visual. Together, they form the 3Vs – verbal, vocal and visual. Although both verbal and vocal are important, they lose out to visual even when combined.

Experts have given their weightage as 7% for verbal, 38% for vocal and a hefty 55% for visual or body language that includes eye contact, facial expression, postures, gestures, movements, clothing, hairstyle and accessories.

While many people can hide their feelings using the correct choice of words and modulate their voice, they would have difficulty managing their body language all the time, as a sudden slip can expose their masked pretence, hence, the importance of mastering interpersonal- communication skills.

Experts are able to read others like a book through body language, just as the tone of voice can reveal the feelings of someone who spoke.

Tourism practitioners should learn and be wary of their body language so as to project a warm and friendly personality. Although it is impossible to speak all the languages and dialects of foreign visitors from around the world, we can still communicate effectively.

After all, the visual and vocal components combined constitute a massive 93% in effective communication, and visitors will be pleased to meet local hosts who appear delighted to welcome them, regardless of whether the language used is understood.

And to stress the importance of visual communication, one only has to look at Khabane Lame, a Senegalese-born Italian social media personality, who has amassed 200 million followers on his TikTok account through his silent video clips. After being laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic, he is now well on his way to becoming a multimillionaire and is already world famous, thanks to his simple and easy-to-understand visual communication skill in front of a camera, without speaking a word.

YS Chan is a master trainer for Mesra Malaysia and Travel and Tours Enhancement Course, and an Asean Tourism Master Trainer. He is also a tourism and transport business consultant. Comments: