Body Language – Make it Work!
Vocal training can help you succeed in getting more publicity but don’t forget the role body language plays in your delivery. Body language is the oldest and most trusted language in the world. Research indicates that it accounts for 55% of what we communicate, while the voice accounts for 38% and the words for only 7%.
Before you even open your mouth, people are already making assumptions about you based on your non-verbal cues. Are you to be taken seriously or dismissed? Are you warm and friendly or stiff and distant? Do you walk with assurance and confidence when you enter a room, or do you slip in, hoping no one will take notice?
Whether intentional movements and expressions or natural reactions and projections, we are constantly communicating with our bodies and physical movements. These behaviours are picked up by the person we are interacting with and likewise.
Being able to monitor your own body language and read the body language of others, not only offers you great advantages as a communicator but more importantly, it helps you get your message across effectively.
Some tips to prevent you from tripping!
Eye to eye contact
When we speak, we maintain eye contact just 40-60 percent of the time. That’s because we’re busy trying to access information from our brains. Often times, depending on the type of information we’re trying to retrieve, we look up to the left, up to the right, or down. But in the context of a media interview or speech, that lack of eye contact can signal nervousness or evasiveness. You can help maintain better eye contact if you pause briefly before answering a question, which will allow you to access the information you need before you begin speaking.
The right posture
Getting your posture right will automatically make you feel more confident. And when you feel good, other people pick up on that. If you’re feeling a bit down, take a look at how you’re standing or sitting. Chances are you’ll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits good breathing, which in turn can help make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.
Straight or tilted
When you want to feel confident and self-assured keep your head level both horizontally and vertically. You can also use this straight head position when you want to be authoritative and want what you’re saying to be taken seriously. Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening, receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or the other. You can shift the tilt from left to right at different points in the conversation.
Natural, clear gestures
As PR specialists, whenever we encourage spokespersons to incorporate gestures into their deliveries, we consistently find that their words get better. The physical act of gesturing helps to form clearer thoughts and speak in tighter sentences with more declarative language. So the next time you give a speech or interview, gesture as naturally as you typically would in everyday life. Your words will come to you more easily, and the words you use will be stronger and you will feel a lot more confident.
Armed and aware
Crossing your arms across your chest can be viewed as defensive, expressing opposition or being insecure. If sitting at a table, folding your hands in your lap or having them under the table can be viewed as untrustworthy; wringing your hands can be seen as a sign of nervousness; and when presenting an idea or talking be wary about being too wild in your gestures. When delivering a speech, if you see your audience exhibiting defensive body language, change tactics, and don’t try to persuade them to your point-of-view until their body language opens up.
Watch those feet
Your feet subconsciously tell you where you want to go. If you find yourself in the middle of a conversation you wish you could exit, just look at your feet. You may be surprised to find that they’re not both pointing directly at the person with whom you’re speaking. The same is true for the other person. If you’re not sure whether the person you’re speaking with is truly interested in your conversation, just look at his feet.
Flash that smile
We subconsciously imitate the things we see. When I look at someone and smile, they tend to smile. When I look at someone and nod, they tend to nod. Some neuroscientists say that type of mirroring behavior is due to “mirror neurons.” That’s important information, because audiences that are smiling and nodding are more receptive to your ideas. So smile and nod at appropriate moments, and you’ll be that much closer to accomplishing your goals.
Remember, body language can portray up to half of what you are communicating. This is a high amount, so it is important to make sure you use your body to show what you are trying to get across. Your body can be used as a tool. So use it wisely and make it work in your favour.
Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corporate Media