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5 Body Language Skills That Will Guarantee Success in Business

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Published:
May 4, 2022
Reading Time:
9 minutes
Leo
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

Imagine this:

Your consulting client has paid you over $10,000 so far.

And now, the day of presenting your analysis and recommendations has come.

You’ve been preparing for the presentation for weeks and have worked on your slides all night. You’ve rehearsed your presentation again and again.

Not to mention you’re nervous, but trying hard not to look nervous. You haven’t had time to have breakfast and you feel tired. You know that if the current project turns out to be a success, you’ll get a lot more work in the future.

A lot is at stake, so what do you do now?

The thing is, success in business goes hand in hand with your communication skills. Whether you own a Fortune 500 company or work as a freelance consultant, your communication skills will determine how far you reach.

Now, communication is a broad term that includes writing, speaking, and even body language. In this article, we will talk about the last two. We will talk about how to prepare for a presentation well and become a better speaker by using professional body language.

Particularly, we will focus on the latter. How can you use body language to look confident and like a figure of authority?

1. Look Open and Expansive, Not Closed and Contractive

Let’s first understand what closed and contractive mean in terms of body language. According to Psychology Today, when one is confident, they stand in a tall and erect posture. However, a discouraged person tends to slouch. Also, when a speaker is nervous, they tend to close their body using their hand or an object. For example, by hiding behind the podium or moving too close to the mic to cover their mouth. All these are signs of closed body language.

Becoming a better speaker will require you to open up your body and be in front of the audience without fear. This means facing your audience directly without anything in between, including your arms, a laptop, or a table.

Preparing for a presentation doesn’t mean that you only have to go through your slides many times beforehand. You should also practice speaking with an open posture well in advance. Ultimately, remember that someone who is nervous may give the impression that he has something to hide. And that’s why a nervous person shows defensive body language. Even if your clients are not body language experts, they can tell that you’re not confident. Thus, open up and expand your body. Take up space, move your hands, and expose your torso.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Success in business, particularly in consulting business, depends on a consultant’s communication skills.
  • Body language is a crucial part of great communication.
  • Open body language implies confidence, while a contractive one implies fear and anxiety—two red flags for the audience.
  • Both making and breaking eye contact are important. A continuous stare must be avoided.
  • Matching the body language, gestures, tone, and volume of the audience helps build rapport.

2. Make Eye Contact, and Break Eye Contact

On your journey to becoming a better speaker, you’ll surely come across the topic of eye contact. “Great conversation involves a dance of making and breaking eye contact,” says Tara Well, an associate professor of psychology at Barnard College of Columbia University.

While you’re preparing for a presentation, it’s not uncommon for your friends and colleagues to say, “Hey, remember to maintain eye contact.” Well, this is true. Strong eye contacts are important indeed. However, you must also know when to break eye contact. As a general rule, limit eye contact with one person to 3-5 seconds only, and then move on to the next person. Otherwise, it may seem like you’re just staring at one person which could make them feel uncomfortable.

While you give a consulting presentation, chances are, the clients will focus more on the slides than your eyes. After all, they truly care about their success in business. Regardless of this, your aim should be to look at the audience more than you look at your slides.

3. Speak Confidently, Then Pause Confidently

This one is not directly related to body language but will affect it if you don’t get it right. Continuously speaking and trying to finish your presentation fast could make you sound anxious. And that anxiety can affect your body language. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “...when you are under stress or anxious, this system kicks into action, and physical symptoms can appear.”

body language, 5 Body Language Skills That Will Guarantee Success in Business

If you’re determined to learn the art of becoming a better speaker, you’ve got to learn when to speak and when to pause. If you speak continuously for long, it may sound like an over-rehearsed speech. Also, your clients may feel like you’re rushing your presentation because you want to get it over with. This may create a bad impression and leave them unsatisfied.

The other thing is, that when you don’t pause voluntarily, you may end up using filler words. For example, “According to my analysis, ah, um, rural areas of Europe are good markets to, uh, expand into.” The ‘um’s and ‘ah’s are filler words that speakers use for two reasons. First, they need time to think before speaking the next words. And second, they’re afraid of awkward silence.

So, take it easy. Relax. It’s okay to pause for 2-3 seconds to catch your breath or to organize your ideas in your mind before presenting them.

4. Don’t Move Unnecessarily

The next body language tip that you’ll need to master while preparing for a presentation is controlling your movements. As mentioned before, your body language should not be contractive in nature. However, you should also not be so active as to distract the audience.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of body movements that you should remember:




5. Match and Mirror

Matching and mirroring is a widely used technique for building rapport with someone. Basically, all you have to do is match the other person’s body language, tone, inflection, volume, etc. Let’s understand how this works in real life.

Suppose your client is someone who speaks slowly and has reserved body language. In this case, it’d be better if you matched their style as well. If you speak loudly and fast to sound authoritative, it may not work the wonders you expect it to.

And it’s not just limited to this. Matching and mirroring can take many forms. For instance, if your client walks in the room, removes their blazer, and loosens their tie, even you should imitate some of their actions without seeming like you’re copying them. So, maybe you could move your tie a bit when they’re watching.

The key thing here is subtlety. You don’t want to overdo it because then it may seem like you’re mocking them. This in turn, will lead to unwanted consequences. The idea is to build rapport with your audience, not to start a comedy show.

This brings us to the end of this article. Once again, it’s worth mentioning that success in business and good communication skills are intertwined. Especially in consulting business, in which communicating with high- paying clients is a key part of the role. Thus, keep the simple yet efficient tips in this article in mind, and prepare yourself to rock your next presentation.

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