People judge your body language and nonverbal communication before anything else.
Before you’ve even said a word, the person across from you has noticed your body position, posture, facial expressions, and more.
For this reason, your body language is important in making a first impression and being remembered.
Building strong body language is going to make you seem more confident in any interaction.
Coming up, you’re going to get six of the best body language tips to focus on. If you practice these areas, you’ll build perfect body language and higher confidence.
If you’re wondering how to have good body language, your first step should be to practice making eye contact and maintaining it in a conversation.
Steady eye contact shows confidence (just mix in some small glances to the side so the other person doesn’t feel like you’re staring at them too intensely).
Avoiding eye contact shows submission, nervousness, and a lack of confidence… especially while speaking.
The best way to build strong eye contact is to practice in everyday situations.
That way when you’re in a “big” moment it’ll happen naturally. The biggest mistake you can make is waiting until important moments to start *trying* to maintain eye contact. It’s much easier to just build a habit of it by trying right now, and every day.
Pay extra attention to your eye contact while talking. Most people can quickly learn to maintain good eye contact while listening, but find it harder to do when speaking.
If you practice being aware of your eye contact in every interaction you have, you’ll find it very easy to maintain eye contact in high-pressure situations where body language counts for a lot!
With enough practice, you’ll be able to instantly make a better first impression and appear to have better overall body language.
The next body language tip that you should focus on is your body posture.
When standing, make sure your head is upright and straight. Imagine a string is pulling you up from the top of your head. Then, tuck your chin in slightly.
Then, there’s sitting posture.
How you sit is as important as any body language tip. Especially in job interviews.
Sit in an open stance. Try to take up a lot of space. Don’t scrunch into a small space with your arms or legs folded. Taking up more space shows confidence. It’s called a “power position” or “power stance”.
This is how *not* to sit. Notice this person is making themselves appear small and appearing “closed off”.
You can’t even see their face yet you can tell they’re not confident! This is the opposite of a power stance.
Crossing your arms or folding your hands is a defensive posture. It shows you’re hesitant, closed off, worried, etc. So avoid doing it. Keep your arms open. On your sides, on the table, etc.
Every once in a while, when you’re just meeting with friends or in a low-pressure situation, try to take up as much space as possible. Spread your arms out. Put your hand far out on the table, as far as it can reach, and leave it there. It feels good. You’ll see…
Don’t do this in an interview, but remember that feeling. That’s how you should feel. Never make yourself smaller or cross your arms out of nervousness or fear. It’ll just make you more nervous and apprehensive. Not good!
One more tip for building powerful body language in this area: Don’t fidget. It’s distracting and is another sign that you’re uncomfortable nervous.
Just like the eye contact, practice being aware of fidgeting in small, everyday situations. You can’t just “turn it off” in a big moment if you haven’t been practicing. It’ll be almost impossible. So notice when you’re fidgeting or tapping your hands/feet while talking to friends or family.
That way when you get into a big moment, your powerful body language will be second-nature.
We discussed posture earlier, but your gestures and movements are also critical for building strong body language.
The wrong gestures, head movements, or body movements can make you appear nervous, untrustworthy, or uninterested.
Walk slowly and calmly, with a positive and relaxed look.
Move your head slowly and deliberately when looking around. The same tip applies to your feet and body movements, too.
Have you ever seen a CEO or Executive rushing around, running to catch a door as it’s closing?
No. They move slowly and deliberately, with confidence.
So relax, move slowly and walk as if you’re calm and unworried.
I don’t mean that if you’re going on an interview you should walk at half of your normal speed and make people wait for you. But avoid any actions that seem “panicky.”
Important people don’t run around in a panic or make sudden, jerky body or head movements.
So you’ll demonstrate more powerful body language by eliminating rapid, sudden movements in your own business interactions and conversations.
We talked about making eye contact earlier, and how this shows confidence.
You should also practice keeping a calm, welcoming facial expression overall. You should look positive and interested, but also calm and at ease.
Practice speaking and introducing yourself in a mirror to see how your facial expressions will appear to others.
You want to seem like you enjoy your work, and you’re enjoying the conversation with whoever you’re talking to. Smiling is one of the easiest ways to do this.
It’s okay to feel a bit nervous in a conversation. It happens to everyone. But try to avoid clenching your jaw, wrinkling your face, or looking tense.
Your facial expressions are an important part of your body language and people can sense the difference immediately, which can change how they remember the interaction.
Not too hard, not too soft. Keep it firm and confident but don’t try to squeeze the life out of their hand like it’s a fight to the death!
Practice with friends, your parents, siblings, etc.
If you get a halfway decent handshake that’s “normal”, it won’t be an issue and nobody will think twice about it. This is one of those body language tips where you just need to be decent at it. You don’t need the world’s best handshake. That’s the good news.
There’s another part of your physical appearance that people are judging almost immediately, whether in-person or on video: the way you’re dressed.
Just like how someone instantly judges your body language, facial expression, and posture, they also judge what you wear.
If you’re going for a job interview, wear fitted clothes that look GREAT, and if in doubt… over-dress a little bit. This is one of the things I recently covered in my list of interview do’s and don’ts.
It’s better to be a little bit over-dressed. If the company seems to wear business casual, wear a tie. If the company dresses casual (jeans, etc.), wear business casual instead (slacks, a shirt tucked in, no tie).
Don’t dress like the average employee for an interview. Dress how you think leadership would dress.
At the same time, you don’t want to show up to a career event, meeting, or job interview with distracting clothes that take away from the other person’s ability to focus on your speech.
So avoid clothing that’s too “loud” or colorful. Avoid big, hoop earrings. Avoid anything that you think will draw more attention than the words you’re saying, since your speech is usually what you hope the person across from you will be focusing on and listening to.
You now know the six best and most important body language tips that you can use to be more impressive in negotiations, networking events, meetings, and of course job interviews!
Practice these tips to build perfect body language and appear stronger in your conversations.
Along with all of the tips on body language above, also take time to consider your voice and verbal signals.
How loudly are you speaking? Aim to speak loud enough that nobody has to strain or struggle to hear you when you speak.
Also, note whether you are rushing with your words or taking your time.
You’ll sound more confident by speaking a bit slower instead of rushing. While technically your voice and words don’t fall within the topic of body language, your verbal communication is still an important area to be mindful of.
If you practice the tips and ideas above, you’ll build strong body language skills that will benefit you in all sorts of everyday situations, including high-pressure situations where you’re counting on your body language to convey a confident image.
You’ll be more impressive to your team at work, to an interviewer at a potential new workplace, and anyone else in the room when you speak or enter.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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