We often spend a great deal of time preparing for meetings, events, the future. But one thing we sometimes forget to prepare for is one of the most critical elements in ensuring our success – our body language. The way we sit or stand, even the expressions we wear on our faces can all send nonverbal cues to others. If those messages don’t sync with the messages we are sharing verbally, it can call our authority and even our trustworthiness into question.
Want to be adept at communicating with more than just your words? Here are a few tips to help you harness the power of body language:
Adopt a strong posture
Walking tall into a room and sitting up straight in a chair sends a very distinct signal to customers and business associates alike. It says you are confident, attentive and alert – and it says that you mean business. In contrast, if you slouch or slump, it sends a very different signal. No matter how thorough your presentation or paperwork, no matter how fluid and convincing your words, bad posture sends the unconscious message that you aren’t interested, which can also suggest that you aren’t either prepared or dedicated. That is the last message you want to send to customers, colleagues or employees.
Use a “power pose”
In addition to mastering the message inherent in your posture, you can also send a commanding signal to both customers and business associates.Essentially, this is any stance that allows you to take up as much space in a room as possible. Standing with your legs apart and your hands on your hips or on the desk in front of you are both good examples. In addition to transmitting to your audience that you are powerful and in control, adopting a “power pose” can also give you the confidence to address a group more adeptly. In a 2015 my study at my group found that adopting one of these positions for several minutes before giving a presentation or a speech allowed people to perform more successfully. So, if you’re the kind of person who needs to take a few deep breaths before talking in front of a group, try incorporating a power pose into your practice. Chances are, you’ll see tangible benefits from doing so.
Get comfortable with “open” gestures
We’ve all been to a meeting or in a conversation with someone who crossed their arms, and it sends an immediate signal of reticence or displeasure. Keep that in mind the next time you have to speak to a group. People who greet an audience with a genuine smile and open arms receive a far greater response than people who close themselves off, even if it is a default gesture born of fear or insecurity. “Open” gestures – movements that indicate receptiveness to both audience members and their ideas – are proven to have considerably more success convincing your audience of your message. Make sure, however, that you do your best to express genuine enthusiasm for your own ideas. Audiences can pick up on inauthenticity relatively quickly, so have faith in yourself and your ideas first, then use that faith to get excited about having the opportunity to share them.