Communication is so much more than the spoken word. While many of us like to verbalise how we feel or think, it’s often the expressions that go with our words that add meaning.

The question begs then, could we analyse only those expressions to gather rich and meaningful data?

In today’s society when time is of the essence, many of us find it easier to email, or input information digitally, but the written word can be deceptive, and we can’t view a person’s reaction online.

A recent campaign we shot a ‘one word’ video where people appeared on camera to speak one word that represented how they viewed a topic.

Interestingly, the way people expressed the word spoke volumes about what they thought of the topic. Some gave more excitable reactions than others, and almost all reactions were different.

Engagement campaigns that incorporate multiple forms of communication – written, spoken, augmented, virtual – may capture a wider audience and gather more insightful data. Therefore could we add another element by reading non-verbal expressions?

Perhaps as engagement professionals we have overlooked non-verbal expressions to provide true meaning. Sometimes all it takes is a simple look to say what’s on your mind.

I was recently in a forum where a participant rolled their eyes, and while no one else could see this, what it told me was that that person disagreed with the conversation. It was a powerful insight.

What if we asked people to express what they thought about a topic using only their face? Now imagine if the topic was polarising – such as refugees, or same sex marriage – what reactions would we get?

Could we measure these reactions, and would they tell us as much as other forms of communication?

We could categorise the non-verbal expressions to gather data, for example positive and negative, happy and sad, confused and aware, unsure and sure, excited and bored, angry and content.

This exercise might support other findings, or add a deeper element of awareness to the campaign. It would also be fun.

Either way, expressions are often what make the spoken word make sense, so perhaps paying more attention to them would help us.