We’re always communicating on two levels, the physical and the verbal. And while what we say is important, the language of the body has far greater impact. At no other time is this more crucial than when you’re leading or presenting.
The problem? We’re generally unaware of the messages we’re sending.
What Message Are You Really Sending with Your Body Language?
A few years ago I was coaching a company vice president who was readying himself for a meeting with the CEO. We videotaped the prep session from the time he opened the door to enter the room until he sat in the chair to begin the practice conversation. At that moment I stopped recording so that he could watch what he’d just done.
He had entered with his shoulders slouched, head down and tilted to the side, eyes on the ground. The message? Submission. He had no idea he had been holding himself that way until he saw the video.
I posted previously on body language that shows confidence and engagement in meetings, and body language to avoid during meetings. Now we’re talking about body language to use when you are leading meetings, presenting, or interviewing.
5 Ways to Look Confident — and Feel Confident — When Presenting
Here are 5 things you can do that will not only show confidence, they’ll boost your feelings of confidence. That’s the bonus value of these body language tricks — if you’re already feeling confident, they’ll help you increase or maintain your confidence. And if you’re feeling less sure to begin with, taking these actions will help you feel more sure.
- Walk into the room with your head up and shoulders back. No shrugging or head tilting — those gestures convey submission, uncertainty, hesitancy.
- If you are walking with a notebook or papers in your hand, have them in one hand by your side. Swing your arms slightly as you walk. That conveys assuredness. Don’t clutch whatever is in your hand to your chest. That sends the message that you’re fearful and protective.
- Look around the room as you walk in, making eye contact. Smile slightly and nod to people, even those you don’t know. That immediately connects you to the crowd and draws them in. Do not stare off into space, look up, down, or toward the wall. You must create relationship from the get-go.
- When you greet someone and you’re about to shake hands, first step in with your left foot, then cross your right foot over your left very slightly as you lean in to extend your hand into the shake. It’s a confident move and equalizes the power right away.
- When you stand to speak, hold your shoulders open with arms at your sides. Your arms should be bent from 30 to 90 degrees at the elbow. That signals openness. Whatever you do, don’t fold your arms across your chest. That’s another protective move and signals closure to new ideas. And if you hold your hands behind your back, the message is one of mistrust.
Practice before you put these into play. Videotape yourself and/or have a friend watch and give you feedback. You’ll notice that changing your body language changes the whole way you approach the presentation or interview.
Question: Have you noticed a difference when putting these into practice? Or do you have a question or a tip? You can leave a comment by clicking here.