Body language can be a powerful attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others. People assess you visually within the first few minutes of meeting you. I’ve been asked a lot about body language by the media over the years. Here are some of their questions along with my answers relating to the use of body language in networking environments.
1. What can you do to increase your confidence and to come off as warm, friendly or knowledgeable to others?
People over-think this issue. The answer is pretty straightforward — be more “interested” than “interesting.” When you are meeting people, practice being an interested interviewer and an active listener. Learn about them and during the process make sure that your facial expressions match that interest. Don’t look bored — look engaged. You can do that with a smile, appropriate reaction to a comment or a few nods (but not like a bobblehead doll). Also, use your eyebrows to show your reaction to comments. Do this in an authentic way. If you really show interest in other people, you will be amazed at some of the stories you hear and people you meet. You will also make a great impression on these individuals. All of these things will help to make you look warm, friendly and confident.
2. What is the latest reputable science saying about hand gestures and how they effect the way we’re perceived by other people?
In a study done by Holler and Beatie, they found that gestures increase the value of someone’s message by 60 percent! They analyzed thousands of hours of TED talks and found one striking pattern. The most-watched TED Talks were done by people who used effective hand gestures.
Specifically, they analyzed the top and bottom TED Talks and found that the least popular TED Talks used an average of 272 hand gestures during the 18-minute talk, and the most popular TED Talks used an average of 465 hand gestures during their talk — or almost double!