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Keeping People Interested: Body Language

Using body language to keep people engaged in what you have to say.

Keeping People Interested: Body Language

  1. Make eye contact frequently. Eye contact is a major part of communication. When people make eye contact with us, we tend to believe that they're sincere. If you want to convey your message convincingly, you need to keep your eyes on the face of your audience, whether it's the guy you want to get to know or a full auditorium listening to a sales presentation. If you're delivering a speech to many people, move your eyes from one face to another every few minutes. If the conversation is with one person, break eye contact every few minutes to look down or to the side. Keep in mind that looking up tells people that you're searching for words - avoid it unless you want to look like you're considering your answer carefully.
  2. Stand straight and relaxed. Shoulders back and head up tells the world that you have self-confidence. Your posture delivers a powerful message that can reinforce the words that you're saying. Slouched or slumped shoulders imply a poor self image and lack of confidence. The more confidence you project, the more positively you - and your message - will be received.
  3. Let your face show your feelings. If you're enthusiastic about your subject, let it show in your voice and your expression. If you're not enthusiastic about it, but need to be convincing, pay close attention to what your face is doing. When your words and your expressions don't match, it creates a dissonance, making your audience feel that something is just not quite right. That feeling of 'wrongness' will often translate to doubt or disbelief in the people listening to you.
  4. Dress the part. Like it or not, appearance conveys a great deal about you. If you're neatly groomed and dressed, you tell everyone that you care enough about yourself to take care of yourself. People are more likely to listen to and believe a person who shows self-confidence - and making the effort to look good conveys self-confidence and self-love.
  5. Keep your hands away from your face. Be especially careful to keep your hands and fingers away from your mouth. Any police officer skilled at interrogation will tell you that touching your mouth, chin or nose when you're speaking is an almost certain sign that you're lying. If you want to be believed, keep hand gestures below the face, and move your hands outward, away from your mouth.
  6. Make every movement purposeful. Don't fidget and fuss. Don't rock your weight from foot to foot. Every move that you make should have a purpose. Fidgeting and fussing with your notes or pulling and tugging at your clothing conveys nervousness and uncertainty - definitely not the impression that you want to give.
  7. Smile. Unless the message that you're delivering is sad or angry, a smile is your best friend when you're speaking to someone. When we smile at another, we're inviting good feelings about ourselves. A smile is the single most important tool in making a positive impression on others.
  8. Use your position to your advantage. Your position in relation to others is another powerful signal. Standing while others are sitting conveys authority. If you're delivering a speech to an audience, standing is a good position to speak from - you're literally speaking from a position of authority. If instead, you want to convey a spirit of teamwork, informality or intimacy, remain seated and even with others. In a one on one conversation, where you sit or stand can also convey a message. Moving into another's personal space can make them uncomfortable and assert your dominance - or it can imply intimacy. Forcing them to look up at you by towering over them can reinforce your power in a situation where you need to show strength. If you're trying to set someone at ease, putting your face at or below their eye level will make them feel that they're on even footing with you.

By taking into account your appearance, posture, position and gestures, you can reinforce what you're saying when you speak to others. If you want to be a more effective communicator, learn to consider the entire picture that you present. Remember, you communicate as much with what you don't say as with what you say.

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