How you carry yourself when engaged in conversation is often as important as what you say. However, all too often, we let the repetitive shoulder shrugging, hair flicking and bizarre elaborate hand gestures do all the talking.
Whether you’re pitching for new business, presenting to colleagues or attending networking events, nervous or uncomfortable body language can distract your audience from understanding the message you are trying to convey.
Surprisingly, the most important thing you can do to overcome distracting body language is to forget about it! Yes, this may go against the ‘rule book’, but even if you were to succeed in controlling your body language, your behaviour would probably look false.
To help you make the most of your next networking encounter or presentation, here are 6 simple top tips to help you deliver more authentic, natural body language.
- First of all, be confident about the points you’re trying to deliver. If you know your subject and you’re passionate about your message, relaxed body language will follow. However, if you’re saying something you don’t entirely believe, that lack of conviction may well leak out through your body language.
- Slow down. When we’re nervous we tend to talk quickly, which means accelerating the pace of our body language in order to keep up. Instead, hold good pauses and remember to breath!
- Make eye contact. Eye contact shows that you’re comfortable and interested in what the other person is saying. When talking in a group, make eye contact with everyone, don’t just focus on one person. It should be long enough to show you’re interested but not so long as to intimidate.
- Many of us cross our arms because it’s comfortable. However, be warned, the body language ‘experts’ out there may draw the wrong conclusion. Some believe crossing your arms indicate that you’re reserved or uncomfortable with the situation, even if you’re just cold.
- Avoid nervous habits. Put down anything that could form a distraction and encourage nervous body language to appear. Whether it be a pen you can’t stop clicking or notes that need consistent reshuffling, freeing up your hands lets natural gestures flow more freely in conversation.
- And finally, smile! A genuine smile tells those around you that you are not only comfortable in your surroundings but approachable.