What Does Your Body Say About You?

Remember that when we are delivering any message, only 7% of that message is our words. The rest is our tone of voice and our non-verbal body language. Our bodies speak volumes. We are always sending signals to others, whether we like it or not. Body language combined with vocal tone can override or even cancel the meaning of the words we say. Make sure your mouth and your body are sending the same signal.

Here are some things to keep in mind about body language:

  • Eyes, eyebrows, and mouth send out the signals that can make a world of difference.

  • People who smile are happier than those who don't. Smiling releases a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good. It's a great way to establish a rapport with listeners.

  • Eye contact helps you carry your message to each person in the audience. It builds trust.

  • Learn to speak with your hands. Draw lines in the air, make a point, count on your fingers, and emphasize length and width.

  • Work on appearing sincere and comfortable.

  • Let your hands do what they want to do, as long as they don't get in your pockets, fiddle with an object, or make obscene gestures to your audience.

  • Your body posture affects your emotions and how you feel determines your posture. If you are confident, happy and ready, your body will show it.

One of the most important things you can do with body language is learn to pick up cues from people that you are making them uncomfortable.

  • Rocking

  • Leg swinging

  • Tapping

If you sensitize yourself to these simple cues, over time, people will have the experience of feeling more relaxed, at ease, and open with you (and to you). These are the first signals of tension and indicate that the person feels intruded upon or nervous. If it escalates, these signals are often followed by:

  • Intermittent closing of the eyes

  • Slight tucking of the chin into the chest

  • Shoulder hunching

Basically, learn to watch for these, and then adjust your approach. Sometimes just taking one step back, or ceasing talking and getting the other person to talk to you instead, will be all it takes to ease the tension.