| Eve & Elle Admin
Featured writer: Angela Ward
Public speaking skills are vital to our success. Being a good public speaker conveys confidence, credibility and leadership.
But good communication isn’t just about the words! It’s how those words are used and the language underneath our words. Body language cues, like words, carry powerful messages.
Body language is a huge part of communication and can make a greater impact than even our spoken words.
This is especially true in the workplace, where something like a simple handshake can make or break first impressions.
It’s easier to pick up on other people’s body language rather than our own. But like any skill, body language can be developed and improved. Here is how;
#1 Pay close attention to your voice
We’ve all developed certain habits and ways of talking. For example, many people use filler words such as “like” or “um.” While this is completely natural, it can send the message that you’re uncertain in workplace situations. Sometimes we talk too quickly or too softly. But have no fear—these habits can be changed and you can improve. Here are some things you can try:
- Record yourself and listen back to pick up on areas that need work.
- Join a Toastmasters group in your local area. You’ll be surrounded by a community of other people working on improving their public speaking skills.
- Read poetry aloud. Poetry has a natural rhythm to it and you’ll get used to hearing yourself speak.
- If you’ve got a big interview or presentation coming up, rehearse in front of friends and family who will give you constructive feedback.
#2 Stand tall and proudly
Standing and walking with good posture conveys confidence and power. Own your space and walk with pride. You’ve got this. How do you improve and maintain good posture?
- Take up a physical activity such as yoga, Pilates or dance. Many people who practice these activities have excellent posture.
- Sit up straight and ensure that you have good ergonomics at your desk or office.
- Wear shoes with good arch support. If you can find stylish and comfortable shoes that’s even more of a win-win.
#3 Maintain steady eye contact
Eye contact in many cultures conveys interest in what a speaker is saying. A good rule of thumb is to maintain eye contact for about 2-3 seconds, as this is what most people are comfortable with. Some things to keep in mind about eye contact:
- Look at everyone when talking in a group so that they feel included in the conversation. This is especially important in group and panel interviews. If you do this, you’ll make a great first impression!
- Nod your head moderately and use words of affirmation to show that you’re pa
- ying attention and interested in what the speaker is saying.
#4 Do smile when appropriate, but keep your face neutral in high-tension situations
Have you ever noticed how much more receptive you are to people who smile? And how much more grateful you feel around people who give you their undivided attention?
A smile goes a long way in making someone else feel comfortable but it can work against us if we’re in situations with high stakes. For example, if you want to negotiate a deadline or salary with your boss, you should keep your face neutral. A smile may be well-intended, but you can be sending out the message that you don’t take the situation seriously or that you’re too agreeable, so save that gorgeous grin of your, for new faces and low-stakes situations.
#5 Perfect that handshake
A firm, strong handshake coupled with steady eye contact makes you look like the boss you are. Also try to initiate the handshake first. A firm handshake is crucial for making a good first impression at interviews and networking events. Here are some tips to perfect your handshake:
- Practice your handshake with family members and friends; they’ll let you know if your handshake is too hard or too soft.
- Be firm but gentle in your handshake. Balance is key.
- Make sure your hands are moisturized and well-kept. Though never clammy or wet. Fix any chips in nail polish, as this will add to the overall impression you make.
#6 Use moderate gestures when talking
Studies show that people who use hand gestures are seen as more energetic and likable. Gestures can also help you better explain what you’re saying, and work through your thought processes. Not all of us are naturally animated but if you want to use more gestures, try these things:
- Focus on topics that you’re passionate about and that grab your interest. If you’re passionate about something, you come across as more animated and more knowledgeable.
- Take a genuine interest in others and be curious to learn. This curiosity will fuel your enthusiasm.
- Take some time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. It’s all a natural part of the thought process, and your gestures will enhance your words.
What about you?
What body language cues do you think are most important in the workplace? What area do you think you need to improve? If you have a few seconds. let us know in the comments below!