Manuel Campo Vidal

Journalist and professor of communication 

"Only the listener speaks well, because they will know what is going on with the person they are talking to"

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The world is divided between those who know how to tell stories and those who do not. So, let's learn to tell stories. If you tell the stories well, you will be more successful no matter what field you work in. You will have better results, you will sell more, you will generate more trust. So we have to give importance to communication and to the word. Many times it is spoken, but without knowing exactly what it is said. A single word can change your life. A single word takes you away from a person, perhaps a person you feel for, creating a rejection. Or it allows you to get closer. It is important to accompany that word with silence. Silence is what allows the word to break out, for us to receive it. And the silence after saying it is what allows us all to make it our own, and incorporate it. It's as if we are standing before a computer and saying: "Save," just that moment.

If we are able to take care of the word, to prepare it, if we are able to wrap it up and present it in this way, wrapped in silences, we will make it possible for us to convince other people, to be able to defend our positions better and, ultimately, to make a better world. Because many people — millions of people — are around the world trying to do good: Trying to help refugees, trying to help people who reach our shores, trying to help those who have fewer opportunities, trying to teach in schools and universities. If they managed the word better, if they combined it better with silence, they would be able to multiply the effectiveness of their action.

Communication is the big item of our to-do list. Even in journalism schools, it is not taught how to communicate well. That may seem surprising, but it is true. In any area of life we seek: journalism, law, everyday life, and certainly in medicine. In all fields, it is absolutely essential to communicate well and it is a paradox that it is the subject that is least taught.

"We need to give importance to communication, and to the word. A single word can change your life"

Communication could be a compulsory subject and would be very helpful to everyone, but it would be enough if it were already done in practice. What is the difference is there between a typical Spanish child, a Latino child, and an Anglo-Saxon child? The Anglo-Saxon is constantly interrupting and the Latino is not, because they are not being asked. We have not been trained as broadcasters, just as recipients. We are there, in front of the teacher, almost with a mental remote control, in the sense that if we are not interested, engaged or excited, we press a button and change channels, and starting thinking about something else, because no one knows what we are thinking, and we haven't been taught to be broadcasters. Professional life changes a lot, because those young people who had oral exams constantly, who had to speak nearly every day, who had been practicing communication since they were children, overcome their stage fright and are able to do better in exams, and tell stories better. Yet we are afraid; if someone speaks up in class, shamefully that overbearing envy appears because someone has overcome their stage fright, and we might say: "You are teacher's pet, you want the teacher to pay attention to you," etc., etc. And there is an element of coercion about that kid who wants to speak. It's the complete opposite of what should happen.

The teacher, the most aware persion, feels a certain tension before speaking in public. I myself, having done a great many TV shows, felt tension before I entered came here. I felt it because I want to communicate well, because communicating is tiring, because you're using your vocal cords, because you're looking for the exact word, the phrase you think you understand. You try to read the eyes of the people who are listening to you to see if they are following you, whether they share the knowledge or the explanations you are giving them. Let's distinguish between stage fright and stage nerves.

The best thing to do is to get here, get to know the space where I am going to speak, where the people are, where the cameras are... Get settled in, it's the same as going to a class, or wherever. That helps to ease the nerves. Of course, come prepared — if we are we are foolish. Those who say, I'm going to open my mouth and see what comes out. And whatever nonsense comes out, or nothing at all — saying something stupid is quite a lot worse than saying nothing at all.

It is very good that we help students to prepare debates to defend an idea. Because they overcome stage fright, because they are able to argue, because they know that you cannot speak without serious preparation, without having studied the subject, and that you cannot improvise. I'm not going to open my mouth and see what comes out because I say something I shouldn't. Debating competitions are great for learning the art of speaking and performance — a skill that will come in handy to sell a product, a country or to forge a relationship. In addition to technique, we must focus on content. Everything needs preparation: You have to prepare and study the content of what you want to say. That will make you grow the presence and strength of what you say. Of course, non-verbal communication is very important. Of course, the tone of voice in which things are said is important. Handling silences whenever you want to say something important. I am in favor of supporting debates and of there being debates in schools and universities.

Journalist, doctor of sociology, industrial engineer, president of the Spanish Academy of Sciences and Television Arts and of the Next International Business School, he is also head of the Institute of Business Communication. He presented and directed news at TVE and Antena 3 TV, where he was director and subsequently vice president. Among other awards, he has received the Ondas Award, the Castelar Award for Communication Efficiency and the Camilo José Cela Award for Independent Journalism.