Whether or not you have read books like ‘How to read a person like a book’ or ‘Body Language for Dummies’, you know that your non-verbal cues have a lot to add to your physical speech. In a meeting, pitch presentation or even friendly debate, your body language determines how much impact you create and what people feel and think about you. But more importantly, it is about how you feel about yourself before you appear for any such stress situations.
Leading social psychologist and lecturer Amy Cuddy in a TED Talk said, “Fake it till you become it.”
What does that mean?
Our mind influences how our body behaves. But like a palindrome, it spells the exact same way even if you turn it around. When your body fakes confidence no matter how nervous and subordinate you are feeling, there is a strong chance that you internalize that confidence eventually. Fake it in all your stressful situations and you may be surprised to observe that you have stopped feeling subordinate or under-confident at all.
Here are few things you can do before and after any situation to create an impact through your body language:
Before the situation:
Usually before a meeting, presentation or interview, the waiting period is spent slouching and predicting the kind of questions you will be asked in your head. Instead, you can focus your energy on the following:
- An open posture:Leaders have an open posture whether they are sitting or standing. Don’t slouch or play with your phone, hands or papers. Slouching and restlessness are signs of subordination and nervousness. Take your space. Sit still with a straight neck and read a newspaper if the waiting period is long.
- Practise a power pose in the bathroom mirror:A power pose is one which all leaders use to appear powerful and impactful. The most famous one is what has been famously referred to as the ‘Wonder Woman Pose’ where you stand up tall, place both your hands on your waist and keep ample distance between your legs. This pose makes you feel strong and powerful and helps you be the best version of yourself during the presentation.
During the situation:
Your body language as you enter, talk or exit is extremely important. It needs to showcase your personality, strength, knowledge and determination perfectly. Do this to achieve the same:
- As opposed to common belief, smile less:It is definitely true that smiling more can gain you friends. But it is seen as a sign of submission. You are here to make a point and create an impact, not make friendly banter. Here is a practical tip you can use for any situation: while entering, enter with a small smile that becomes larger as you take centre stage.
- Give a firm handshake-If it is a meeting with a small group, shake everybody’s hands firmly before sitting down. Most politicians and leaders try to get their hand over the others’ to establish their dominance. If two equal partners are shaking hands, the hands are on par.
- After sitting down, steeple-Steepling can make you seem authoritative and intellectual. It is a very famous power pose that you can use in the meeting room, board room or during any presentation. To steeple, you bring your hands up to your chest and join the tips of your fingers together.
- Use your hands wisely-Hand gestures are a great way to be remembered. But the wrong use of hand gestures can make you seem clumsy and un-coordinated. Use them as an aid to explain your speech better. While giving out numbers, show them on your fingers. When talking about something important to you, press your hand against your heart or gesture towards your chest area. Match your actions to your words rather than doing an endless routine of confused hand gestures that do not hold meaning or contribute to your speech.
- Don’t point- Among rude and aggressive gestures, pointing ranks quite high. Point with open hands to appear polite and authoritative.
- Eye Contact- The amount of eye contact required is very important. Too much and you might appear strange, too little and you might appear suspicious. You should have eye contact for 60% of the conversation, especially while speaking.
- Tone- Lower tones are usually perceived as trustworthy and authoritative. Keep your pitch and tone low and take effective pauses in your speech to create an impact on your audience.