So you have got yourself lined up for a potentially career changing interview. You are confident about your accomplishments, and are all set to deliver a presentation that mirror your impressive achievements. However, even before you speak a single word, you have already set the communication rolling with your body language.
What do think you body language says about you? Does it reflect confidence, intelligence and enthusiasm, or is it otherwise?
You would be surprised to know that of all communication that takes place in a normal interaction, only 7% of it actually spoken. The remaining 93% of communication is divided in:
• Visual – eye contact, movement, they way you walk, etc.
• Vocal – the tone, speed and pitch of your voice.
Not Just Words
One of the issues with body language is that if you are not conscious about it, it may just send across a completely wrong message about you. Actions such as not maintaining eye contact, shaking your legs or slacking in your chair may give an impression that you are not confident. You may be doing these actions simply out of habit without even being aware of them, but they does convey something about you to the other party.
On the other hand, if you use your body language consciously and effectively, it can help you to connect with your audience with much more ease, as it demonstrates an air of confidence about you. If you study the body language of some of the most iconic leaders throughout history, you would notice that they ooze with positive energy.
Talk with Your Eyes
Maintaining steady eye contact during a conversion is critical. It establishes an instant connection with the other party by making them feel important, and shows honesty and confidence on your part. Conversely, inconsistent eye contact would amount to breaking that connection instantly!
While delivering a presentation to a larger audience, it gets even more difficult to maintain eye contact. However, all it requires is a little preparation on your side. Firstly, study the content your are presenting very well. If not, you will be reading throughout most of your presentation, instead of establishing a connection with your audience.
Secondly, while delivering the presentation, split your audience mentally into 3 zones. Now you can divide your attention to these smaller zones, rather than trying to address the entire room at once. Also, select one or two people from each zone, and maintain eye contact with them while you are looking towards that zone. This will make the surrounding people feel as if you are speaking directly with them.
Use Your Body to Communicate
Hand gestures can be a great aid to overall communication. To see a real-life example of this, just watch a video of charismatic speakers such as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. You will instantly notice how they use hand gestures to highlight their points, and even to punctuate their sentences!
Also use the rest of your body to communicate. Move around the room while delivering presentations, without making it too distractive. Use hands and facial expressions to your advantage.
Another important body language tool is your posture. Whether you are in a standing or seating position, maintain a tall posture. Interviewers tend to read a lot into your posture. The correct posture is to keep your head up, and your back straight. While seated, sit towards the front of the chair, and lean slightly forward. This shows that you are interested and enthusiastic about what the other person has to say. Postures such as leaning back or slacking demonstrate a lack of motivation and confidence respectively.
If You’re Not Born With It, Learn It
If you feel that you do not have the right body language, don’t fret. It is not a difficult skill to learn if you are conscious and attentive about it. As mentioned earlier, view videos of some charismatic personalities, and take note of their body language. You could also video tape yourself to see your own body language from of third person’s perspective. This can be an incredibly helpful tool towards enhancing your body language.
So to sum it up, start paying attention to your body language today. Be aware of it at all times, treating it with the same attention and seriousness you have for your spoken words, and see how it makes a positive statement about you!