Whether you are conscious of it or not, we are all communicating with each other through bodily expression and often this can be more powerful than words.
Becoming more aware of your body language may be the secret weapon you need to influence and motivate people during crucial business meetings. Here are the 4 main pointers which will help you project confidence, credibility and charisma.
Shake it till you make it
It’s true what they say, you can tell a lot about someone by their handshake. The right handshake can give you instant credibility and the wrong one is an instant turn off. According to Carol Kinsey Goman, author of “The Nonverbal advantage: Body Language at Work” the ideal North American handshake “means facing the other person squarely, making firm palm to palm contact with the web of your hand (the skin between the thumb and first finger) touching the web of the other person’s hand, and matching hand pressure as closely as possible without compromising your own idea of a proper professional grip.” She also tells us this is especially key for women “whose confidence is evaluated by the quality of their handshake even more than it is with their male counterparts.” So get together with a friend and get shaking for business success.
Multiple studies show that holding your body in high power poses for even two minutes stimulates testosterone release in men and women leading to increased feelings of power and a higher tolerance for risk. Power poses are about opening up your body and taking up more space. Examples include putting your feet up on the desk and your hands behind you head, standing feet astride with hands on hips or posing in a star shape, with legs and arms out wide. The more space you take up, the better. Power poses also open up your breathing and calm your nerves. Next time you have an important business meeting, try before you buy and put your poses to work.
It’s the gesture that counts
Author of “Managing for Dummies” Peter Economy tells us that gesturing with your hands while you are speaking to business associates not only improves your credibility with the listener, there is evidence which shows that gesturing with your hands actually improves your own thinking process. Find a natural way of gesticulating that relates to what you are saying. Relaxed, open arm gestures and showing the palms of your hands are signs of “credibility and candor” says Kinsey Goman. You will find your verbal content improves, your speech will be less hesitant and you will be less likely to use fillers if you use your hands when you speak. If you are really stumped go for the old tried and true steeple gesture where you bring the fingertips of your hands together whilst leaving you palms open. This communicates sincerity.
Maintaining positive eye contact is a must when conducting business in western countries. Kinsey Goman tells us that business people from the U.S., Europe and Australia among others will expect you to maintain eye contact for 50-60% of the time. “Here’s a simple technique to improve eye contact: Whenever you greet a business colleague, look into his or her eyes long enough to notice what color they are.” Similarly, be mindful of the expression on your face. Ever heard of “resting b*tch face?” Sometimes we are unaware that when we are squinting at a screen for hours or frowning during a frustrating commute to the office we are maintaining that expression in front of others. Take the time to look in the mirror and “reset” your expression. Deliberately smile before a meeting to set the tone for positivity.