Whenever you’re talking to someone at work or giving a presentation, you’re actually communicating in two ways — verbally and nonverbally. Before you say a word, your body is already speaking for you, from the way you move to how you use eye contact. In a 30-minute discussion, two people can send over 800 different nonverbal signals, according to Forbes. Make sure you’re sending the right nonverbal cues with these six body language tricks.
1. Figure Out What Your Body Is Saying
Ask a colleague to record one of your presentations. Do you look confident and motivated, or insecure and indifferent? One body language trick involves ticking off a mental checklist before entering an interview or meeting:
- Are you slouching, or standing tall? Poor posture can convey disrespect and boredom, according to Inc., so try to keep your back straight, head up and shoulders back.
- Is your face relaxed or tense? Try using appropriate facial expressions to emphasize your words.
- Are you fidgeting or sitting calmly? Leaning back in your chair can make you seem disengaged, so try to sit upright. Leaning forward in your seat may help convey that you’re interested.
2. Talk With Your Hands
Do you keep your hands rigid by your side or in your pockets? If you do, you may unconsciously be presenting yourself as unsure or tentative. A good remedy is to use your hands to animate your speech during key points. This helps your listeners believe what you are saying. Spreading your arms wide or showing the palms of your hands implies you are open-minded. If you’re sitting around a conference table, try this body language trick to appear calm and confident: Loosely clasp your hands, then rest them on the table. Folding your arms across your chest or clenching your fists can look defensive.
3. Maintain Eye Contact
Every time you break eye contact, even to check your notes, you may be giving the impression that you’re not interested or that you’re trying to hide something. When you keep your gaze steady, it shows that you’re focused. Tilting your head and nodding occasionally while maintaining eye contact can convey that you’re genuinely interested in the discussion and that you’re actively listening.
4. Own Your Space
Instead of standing behind a podium, sitting behind a table or talking to a colleague from behind your computer monitor, try moving around. Pointing to your screen instead of reading from it and having your talking points memorized may help you appear more conversational. Fidgeting, twirling your hair or touching your face repeatedly can make you look distracted and insecure, cautions CareerBuilder.
5. Work the Room
If you are speaking to several people or a crowd, Yahoo recommends mentally splitting the space into three, addressing first one side of the room for several minutes, then the middle and finally the other side. Each time, focus on one person in that section. Moving around with purpose conveys leadership and may help reduce anxiety. Don’t forget to smile at appropriate times to further engage your audience.
6. Lower Your Pitch
Your tone of voice can also affect how you’re perceived. Speaking in a high-pitched voice or talking too quickly may make you appear nervous or less powerful than you are. If you feel nerves start to get the better of you, take a moment to breathe deeply and consciously relax before starting to speak again in a lower, confident tone.
Using positive, appropriate body language can help you project confidence, enthusiasm and authority. If you want to build stronger relationships with coworkers, motivate your team and make sure your next big presentation has its intended impact, these six body language tricks can put you firmly on the road to success.