Our body language is more revealing than we think. You’re constantly sending signals through your body language – and the signals are often much stronger than what you’re actually saying.
To make it worse, if your body language and spoken language are clearly pitted against each other, adversity is in the near future. Your body language is partly responsible for your credibility, influence and other aspects that affect your ability as a group to work together and thereby get stuff done.
You can show off with as many fancy terms you’d like, or throw around innovative ideas, but if your body language speaks against you, you won’t get far.
If you have your arms crossed or sunken shoulders when you pitch a new initiative, you’re sending negative signals – and therefore, your colleagues will be less likely to approve of your idea. Instead, you ought to learn how to control your body language in order to make your ideas shine in the meeting room.
We have gathered six tips for you and your body language – and for understanding others'.
6. Be positive
Have you ever heard the phrase, “eyes don’t lie?”
A person’s interest is reflected in their eyes – more specifically, in the pupils. If the person you’re talking to has large pupils, their interest is sincere. If they are small, it might be a sign of boredom. Use this tip to know when to change the subject or speed up 👀
Unfortunately, you can’t do anything actively, to change the size of your pupils. They’re a direct reflection of your interest, which you can’t manually affect. Instead, you can work on staying extra attentive, and in that way train your ability to focus and stay interested.
On the flip side, without changing the size of your pupils, a way to show interest is to lean towards the speaker. Not too much – you don’t want to seem aggressive. Just enough to make you look attentive. Practicing the attentive lean will help score some points with your colleagues.
Besides being attentive, you want to seem self-confident in your meeting. There are many little things that can make you look nervous. Here are the do’s and don’ts:
- A flickering look can reveal your nervousness.
- TIP: Look at the spot right between the eyes of the person you’re speaking with. That way your eyes won’t flicker, and you will appear confident in your persistent eye contact.
- If you’re blinking a lot, or avoiding eye contact, it can be seen as a sign of insecurity.
- Avoid touching your face. It might look like you’re trying to hide – even if that’s not the case at all if your nose was just actually very itchy
- Step all the way into the room when you arrive. It shows how confident you are and that you’re not hiding in the doorway, waiting to be invited in.
Positions and relations of power is not something we spend much of our everyday time on. Yet, it might be to your advantage to establish a power structure when you’re attending meetings.
It’s as simple as a handshake. The “upper hand” in a handshake immediately sends a signal that you’re the leader.
What is it? The upper hand literally means that your hand is the top hand in a handshake, so the back of your hand is facing upwards. World leaders actually use this tip strategically when greeting guests – or political opponents – so they can make sure they get the upper hand.
Even though you don’t participate in top political meetings where you have to prove your power on a daily basis, the upper hand still has an impact. It can determine who will get to control the meeting and even who gets the last word.
Often, there might not even be an upper hand. You can shake another’s hand completely honest and straight. But, keep an eye on how the other person gives you their hand, if you want to eliminate the risk of being the under hand.
Little things can disturb a meeting. Are you chewing gum, bouncing your legs or cracking your knuckles every five minutes?
You’re probably not purposely doing it to annoy anyone but be mindful of the effects. Chewing gum can make you look childish, and research shows that many people see gum-chewers as self-centered. If you want fresh breath, just remember to spit your gum out before entering the meeting room.
If you’re constantly bouncing your legs, you might be stressing the other meeting attendees; it signals impatience or irritation. Worst case scenario is that some might think you’re doing it just to annoy them! So, watch out for those drummer-legs!
The tip here is to sit still. Your calmness will affect your entire appearance and can be efficient in creating a calm and pleasant atmosphere in the meeting room.
Related: Interested in better meetings? Take a peak at these 10 tips for more effective meetings.
The way you sit in your chair sends a lot of signals. First, you have to make sure you straighten your back all the way up through your neck but relax your shoulders, so you don’t look tense.
Second, be aware of your bum. Sit back in your chair. If you’re sitting half way over the edge or at the very front of your seat it appears as if you’re eager to leave. That’s not an encouraging signal to send to your coworkers.
You can also keep an eye on your fellow attendees’ eagerness to move on. Often, our feet will point towards what we want. That means, if the other attendees’ feet are pointing directly towards the door, they’re probably quite ready to get out and be done with the meeting. So, keep an eye on people’s feet – they’re revealing!
If you’re in need of a little extra points, or just want to make a good impression, now is the time to be aware.
If you really want to get on your manager's good side, you can try to imitate their body language. Not a complete imitation, just enough to make a good impression. If your manager leans forward, you lean slightly forward, if your manager looks towards John, you look towards John and so on. Try it with your face as well – smile, wrinkle your brows and pinch your eyes together when your manager does.
It’s easy, and it shows your support and interest for the person. It signals furthermore that you like working with them.
The most important thing in order to look good at a meeting is to be positive; show your good energy. This means that you can’t be afraid of laughing out loud (yes, actually lol’ing) and you must smile a lot. Also, remember to nod your head when your colleagues are speaking or suggestion something. It encourages them to continue, and it shows that you’re supporting them.
Good energy is more than just an act
You can use lots of different little tricks to change your body language – and make a better impression at your meeting. Even if your colleagues don’t know the secrets of body language, you can still influence them through your body language. They are, in fact, completely natural signals, we all unconsciously pick up.
However, you must not look at these tips and hacks as a fake play to trick others. Your body language is useful for more than just you, because if affects the entire energy of the meeting.
Good energy makes the attendees relax and furthermore, it plays a factor in higher productivity – in contrast to negative energy and a bad mood, which affects creativity and productivity in an adverse direction.
So, even though you might just want to look more professional by practicing good body language, it will ultimately give immense value to your meeting.
We call that a win-win.
Smarter meetings? Yes please!
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