I never fully appreciated the power of watching the face of another person while communicating. When my children were infants, I first saw the connection made via faces, well before first words were spoken. But over time, I have lost sight of the power of non-verbal communication. Augmenting the spoken word with other senses, enhances the impact and provides the spiritual connection that humans crave.
This concept recently became clear to me during a wonderful drive-in worship experience. I was able to see just one of the two speakers on stage as another car was blocking my view. Somehow the words of the person I could view resonated in a more powerful way than the disembodied voice of the other individual. The combination of the face with the words made the message much more powerful – I remember the message clearly and felt a deeper connection.
As our country dons masks in public spaces and gatherings, I’ve learned a new term – ‘smeyes’ or smiling eyes. Even with half of our face covered, seeing how one’s eyes are smiling conveys the emotion of the words spoken. The rapid growth of video conferencing systems is an illustration as to how people like to see the facial expressions of others during communication. I am now communicating via video apps on my smartphone with family members who I am not able to visit as much. Seeing adds greatly to hearing.
As churches begin to worship in-person again, the message from a pastor are becoming more dynamic. The range of voice inflection increases. Pacing of the message varies. This change clearly occurs as they see the feedback and expressions on the faces of those in attendance. The facial connection enhances the spoken word – whether in-person, partially covered, or remotely via technical means.