Body language tells a lot about a person.
The slumped guy at the bar, the pursed lip chick at the traffic lights, the blowfish chested bloke at work…you’ve got a pretty good read on them without hearing a word out of their mouths.
The question is, what sort of message are you sending, sitting there hunched over this article?
To make sure you’re communicating a confident, convincing and constructive presence right now, here’s what you need to do.
Take up space
Standing tall, widening your stance and broadening your shoulders is is probably the single most effective way to convey confidence and power. And when you appear confident and powerful, people are much more likely to listen and agree with what you’re saying.
It doesn’t matter how big a person you are either, it’s about establishing status through body language and people of any build can do this by taking up more space.
The diminutive Grant Denyer and George Gregan are great examples.
Hold eye contact
Being able to maintain confident eye contact is an essential business skill. This doesn’t mean staring or creepy lingering looks, just aiming to hold eye contact for at least half of every conversation to communicate confidence and show that you’re listening.
It can feel awkward and slightly intimidating at the start, but the more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes and more seriously you will be taken.
This is especially important when talking to a group, moving eye contact between each person so they feel engaged and personally addressed.
Nervous ticks and unprovoked itches can be spotted from a mile away and undermine people’s confidence in what you’re saying, so stop them.
These can be physical, like tilting your head and rubbing your neck, or vocal prompts like an uncharacteristically deep voice when you want to be taken seriously.
It helps to be conscious of what your twitches are, so if you can’t identify them, ask a friend what you do when you’re nervous. The aim is to emit the same confident presence in every situation.
The effect of smiling is twofold; it makes you feel better and improves how others react to you.
A good, genuine smile makes you appear approachable and open to their input, even when you’re not. And because smiles usually provoke a similar response, people around you feel better about themselves for your presence.
If you can make people feel better about themselves, they’re much more likely to be on your side.
Use your hands
The most powerful body language when talking is using your hands.
By using your hands when talking, you come across as more convincing and better prepared, and people are more likely to remember your points through these visual prompts.
It can also help your own presentation by slowing down speech, allowing more time to think through points as you make them.
While it might sound like a tiresome exercise, keeping a check on every action you make, it’s actually a very easy list to implement. It boils down to being conscious of your actions and improving physical habits.
Once they’ve been established, these habits will stick with you for life, and you’ll appear all the more important as a result.
Image: Gerard Girbes Berges, via Flickr