We tend to focus on words in job interviews and important professional meetings. Body language and nonverbal communication, however, play an essential part in our ability to achieve our goals. For maximum positive impact in these high-stakes business situations, it’s important to master these 4 areas:
1) Personal appearance. While it’s not necessary to dress formally or expensively in most business environments any more, a scrupulously well-groomed appearance is essential to creating a favorable first impression. Pay attention to details; you don’t want your tangled hair or scuffed shoes to take away the power of your resumé. Overdressing is better than underdressing, if you have a doubt.
2) Voice. When you open your mouth, it will be clear how you feel about yourself. Speak clearly, in a low voice. If you tend to speed up when you get nervous, slow down your delivery. Strive for warmth and enthusiasm without any hint of anxiety or timidity. If you have a cold or allergies, make sure you take medication if necessary to minimize coughing or sneezing.
3) Posture. Standing up straight isn’t just something your parents cared about. It’s a sign of self-confidence. When you stand tall, it improves your breathing, which will help you relax. Don’t forget to drop your shoulders and hold them squarely; it’s natural to hunch them up when you’re nervous, but that’s not the message you’re trying to send. An open, controlled posture is important too. No crossed arms or sprawled legs when you’re trying to project engagement and respect for the other people at the table.
4) Facial Expression. If you look bored, impatient or afraid, you are unlikely to make a good impression. To avoid a telltale negative expression, focus on listening, rather than judging. This will put your face into a neutral, attentive pose that mirrors the face of the person talking. Look natural–avoid forced smiles and grim frowns. Focus on your breathing if you feel strong emotions rising. It will help calm and focus your face as well as your mind.
By employing nonverbal communication skillfully, you will be able to relax and enjoy challenging professional situations. Not only that, you’re far more likely to achieve successful results!