Text, Call, or Zoom? It’s All About 10 / 38 / 52

The younger generations have adopted texting as their main form of communication.

Now there’s a new trend among online marketers to send texts to your phone instead of relying on emails – because a noticeably higher percentage of people actually read texts than open emails.

Don’t know about you, but cold sales texts are extremely irritating to me, an intrusion into what should be the private world of my cell phone texts from friends and family.

I feel violated…and I’m not inclined to read the messages nor respond favorably. So they go right to trash.

There’s another reason, however, why marketing through texts may not be as smart as the gurus think.

The answer lies in the special numbers 10 / 38 / 52 – which add up to 100 — and what they tell us about how much of our full meaning is lost in most communications.

Turns out that decades ago, researchers tested how much of our total intended message to another person gets passed to them through different approaches to communicating.

We’re talking about the literal meaning, plus how much we like / dislike the person, plus our mood (upset, stressed, cold, etc.). The full 100% meaning is rich with signals that reveal a great deal about the thoughts and motives of the sender.

I’ve used this information effectively for over 4 decades in developing learning programs and producing video and film programs that persuade people to change their assumptions and develop new and more productive habits.

Of your total message you could convey, with all the nuances of meaning and intent, only 10% gets passed along using words alone.

For example, what is my attitude toward you based on just the words below?

“I need a refund on my order as soon as possible.”

Can’t tell if I’m mad, sad, stressed, carefree, or going nuts with frustration, just by the words. We have to guess at most of the writer’s feelings and intentions but the preponderance or lack of emotional words.

If we could hear the words spoken – now we’re cooking – because 38% of the full meaning of communication comes through tone of voice.

Just imagine the different feelings you could communicate by changing your tone in saying any statement. Same words but different emotions come to us through how our voice sounds.

But the big microphone drop is this major fact: 52% of our total message is communicated through body language. Clunk.

So a text or email sends words…10%…leaves us a lot in the dark about how to read the sender’s feelings, state of mind, and intent.

Now listen to a voice mail message, and words (10%) + tone of voice (38%) together crank the total up to 48% of the potential message. A lot better.

Now talk in person or get on a Zoom call, and you’ve added body language (the missing 52%) in your facial expressions, body movements, folded arms (resistance), leaning forward (interest), and much more.


If you just need to pass along information so another person can make a decision, words alone can work. Pick up 3 cans of black pitted olives at the store. Here’s the address for the party at 7 PM tonight. Daniele can’t make the party tonight because she missed her flight home from Albuquerque.

Most business problem-solving and personal communications need at least a tone of voice. Sharing an experience with a client or friend. Reminiscing about old times. Getting help to solve a customer service problem (phone call avoids a lot of back-and-forth ineffective emails and texts).

Words and voice alone are still lacking, however, if you’re wanting to persuade someone to accept your point of view or buy your product or service.

That’s where the 52% power of body language kicks in big time, in person or on a camera call online.

A warm smile, leaning toward you, eye contact – yes, steady eye contact is one of the most powerful uses of body language to connect deeply with another person.

Not all body language, however, is a conscious trigger.

For example, did you know that subtly mirroring the body language of someone you’re talking to in person can make them unknowingly feel positive toward you?

They lean forward on their elbows on the table, you do the same. They hold their drink in one hand and gesture with the other, and you do the same. Soon they’re really enjoying the conversation!

A tougher and more challenging task, though, is persuading someone to let go of one belief and accept another in its place. We need all 100% of our full potential message to come through, if we expect to get people to change their assumptions, biases, programmed practices, and habits.

Keep in mind the two components of any message: (1) the literal meaning of the words, and (2) the emotional feelings that the words trigger.

Which is more important?

No contest. Humans make decisions emotionally, and then justify them logically.

We buy cars that make us feel good, macho, cool, etc. We pick colors we love to look at. We feel like an Indy 500 race car driver zooming around corners and accelerating in our big horsepower sporty rides. None of that would be a logical choice for Mr. Spock.

Your messages to prospects and clients must be centered around their emotional pains, fears, needs, and wants, if you expect to maintain their interest or convince them to make a decision.

You need the power of your conscious use of body language to draw them into connecting emotionally with you, with your compelling desire to help, and with expectations of how great they will feel afterward.


Based on the facts so far, video sales and branding messages have much more power to connect emotionally with people than podcasts or written sales letters, for example.

While communicating is always better in person, face to face, video is the practical option to reach people all over the world.

Video done emotionally has the extra turbocharge of the combination of the spoken word (48% with words and tone of voice together) with two powerful visual synergies:

1 – How you use your gestures and the way you look, as tools to connect emotionally to people, and

2 – The ability to show pictures and video clips that greatly magnify the impact of your message.

Note that both of these approaches use a form of “body language” – i.e., they communicate visually, one with your body language, and the other with emotional photos, videos, and on-screen words that tell much more than words or voice can do.

An Air Force study reported that words and visuals combined can be 22 times more impactful on emotions and learning retention than either words or images alone…and way more than just a talking face can convey.

It’s called using your B-roll in video industry terms. A-roll is the talking-face announcer on camera, so B-roll is the visual you cut to in order to show exactly what the viewer wants to see as he/she hears your words.

That’s why I teach anyone selling or persuading to only sparingly use the talking face on camera, and only where you need a personal connection to the viewer.

All the rest of the time, viewers want to see what you’re talking about, not your face – and they are much more emotionally engaged that way.

Remember…we make decisions emotionally, and justify them logically. As long as you provide sensible, logical reasons why your solution is the best one for them, their emotions then give themselves permission to act and buy.

Think about these facts and how much you need to visual power of video to promote your products, brand, and services.

Put all 100% of 10 / 38 / 52 to work for you with powerfully magnetic sales videos that talk about your ideal prospects’ emotions and help them feel connected to you and your solution.

Whatever you do for your business, find a way to make emotional A-roll / B-roll video work for you.