Your hand, facial gestures and posture say more about you at any given time than the words you speak. According to studies, your body movements account for 55 percent of your communication, while 38 percent of what you have to say comes from you voice, tone, pauses, etc., and only 7 percent is comprised of the words out of your mouth.
Your body language, or nonverbal communication, is the single most powerful form of communication. When you’re nervous or uneasy, your body language becomes more pronounced. In today’s competitive workplace, possessing good body language is critical to reinforcing your verbal communications and making positive first impressions.
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Think about it for a moment. How many times have you watched a sales pitch where the presenter displays poor body language? Rather than listening to what he or she has to say, your attention is focused on their swaying, their poor posture or their “ums.” He/she doesn’t make a good impression and you lose interest.
Now, take the presenter who stands tall, uses hand gestures effectively, modulates his/her voice in a powerful way and makes eye contact. You’re engaged in the talk, you’re listening. He/she has captured your attention.
Understanding body language to improve your personal impact takes practice. The first step is recognizing the power of good nonverbal communication. You should strive to match your techniques with your personal brand. After all, it’s about showing approachability, warmth and genuineness. Mastering positive body language will not only help you b confident and poised, it will help build credibility – hands down.
Follow these six body language essentials to enhance your communication skills.
- Sit or stand tall. Keep a relaxed, confident posture whether you’re sitting or standing. When standing, avoid swaying or rocking. When sitting, refrain from moving your leg in a quick up and down motion. Keep your back straight but not stiff and relax your shoulders a bit. This “communicates” you’re comfortable with your surroundings.
- Maintain eye contact. Keep your head up and look the person in the eyes when talking or when someone is talking to you. Hold your gaze for three seconds, anything longer can make the person you’re speaking to feel uncomfortable. Maintaining eye contact shows you’re engaged and interested in them and the conversation.
- Use hand gestures.Talking with your hands is an easy way to incorporate gestures into your conversation but be careful not to flail them around. Try making a steeple with your hands or talking with your palms up. Emphasizing words with your hands, helps you appear more confident, congenial and credible.
- Use facial movements. Thrust your chin upward slightly, nod, smile. These simple gestures reflect empathy, show you’re in agreement and can identify with their situation. Use laughter when appropriate to create a sense of rapport and engagement.
- Slow down your speech.The average speed of talking is 140 words per minute. Talking faster than the average can be like a too-much-coffee jolt to listeners and make it difficult for your message to be understood. By slowing your speech, you’ll appear more confident and thoughtful – and it’ll help calm the nerves.
- Smile. A smile shows approachability, kindness, respect and confidence. Take the time to smile when greeting people and sharing a pleasant conversation. What’s more, a beautiful smile can leave a positive lasting impression.
Your technical skills alone don’t guarantee success. Developing your soft skills is the most valuable investment you can make. There is no other investment that creates a greater return. Contact Polished today to get started.
About the Author: Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs is an empowering professional development consultant, dynamic motivational speaker and author. Highly dedicated and results-oriented, she has the skill and passion for helping individuals become more confident and successful in business and beyond. She and her company Polished help clients focus on key adjustments that result in meaningful impact and effectiveness.