The importance of body language in business meetings
Studies suggest that body language accounts for up to 90 per cent of communication; therefore, when attending business meetings, pay attention to body language to get the most benefit.
Remember that the person who speaks loudest may be heard but is not necessarily the most memorable. A more effective way of communicating is to be the person who doesn’t need to shout. Utilising good body language enables you to present your ideas without raising your voice.
Good body language can be separated into four categories: eye contact, body position, gestures and movement.
1. Eye contact
Maintaining eye contact shows respect and an interest in the other person. That said, staring at someone can quickly become intimidating.
Looking at everyone makes people feel valued and builds trust. Conversely, looking away or glancing to one side can make you appear untruthful or submissive.
Utilise facial expressions when talking. Smiling changes the voice, making you more approachable. Remember that smiles are contagious – use this to your advantage!
2. Body position
Walking tall and sitting straight are important. Studies suggest that people judge others within 30 seconds, so make sure you walk into a meeting room looking confident and prepared.
When sitting, keep your legs either uncrossed or crossed at the ankle. Never cross your arms, as closed body language suggests unfriendliness. Similarly, fidgeting is a sign of nervousness or boredom.
Good posture in business cannot be overstated. Think about things that might subconsciously affect your body language so that you can give the best impression.
Anyone in business knows a good handshake is vital to a good first impression. Be careful not to grip too hard or too softly – nobody likes a limp handshake, while a vice-like grip indicates overconfidence.
If you use hand gestures when talking, try keeping your hands above the table but below the collarbone.
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Eyes are naturally drawn to movement, so walk or stand still to emphasise points. Similarly, consider standing or sitting to change the tone of the meeting.
Using the available space and good body language will ensure you stand out in your meeting.