What does Your Body Language Say?

What does Your Body Language Say? 150 150 Laura Sicola

“A blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts … the body language of a man wishing urgently to be elsewhere.” – Edward R. Murrow

You may know your content backwards and forwards, inside and out, and be completely confident in your subject, but is your non-verbal communication – i.e. your body language – undermining your authority in spite of your knowledge?

A little while ago, I was working with a client who didn’t realize that he was a “fidgeter.” After a first practice recording, he watched his video, and before offering any feedback, I asked him what he thought about his performance. He paused, and was quiet for a moment before very matter-of-factly declaring: “I’m going to cut off my hands.”

Running his fingers through his hair, folding and unfolding his arms, touching his face, hands in and out of the pockets, scratching his neck, lacing and unlacing his fingers… Not only did it distract the viewer from listening to the message, but more importantly, the “antsy-ness” (as my mother would call it) practically screamed of insecurity and discomfort, and this completely undermined his efforts to establish himself as a confident, competent leader.

What’s most important to realize is that before you even open your mouth to speak, your body has already communicated very specific messages to the audience, and those messages have one of only two possible effects: If aligned with your words, they strengthen your image and reputation; otherwise, they weaken it. That’s it.

The Importance of Alignment

This binary result is because when your words and body language are aligned or congruent, they reinforce each other, which is much more convincing to the audience. But when they are not in alignment – where perhaps your “script” seems confident but the delivery is not, or your words claim that you are caring and want to hear from people but you never smile and your voice is flat – it makes the audience question why, and this casts doubt.

When working with entrepreneurs preparing to pitch in front of investors, I always say, “Before anyone will buy your product or service, they have to buy into you.” Regardless of how well-composed the content of the pitch is, if the delivery isn’t in alignment, this will never happen.

Ultimately, alignment between verbal and non-verbal communication is the foundation of credibility. Lack of alignment destroys that foundation. Let’s look at ways to ensure that you are in alignment, in order to maximize your credibility.
Body Language – Do’s and Don’ts

Just about everyone gets nervous when speaking on camera (or in public without a camera), and in an earlier post I offered some strategies for calming your nerves ( insert hyperlink later). But that nervousness can come across as uncontrolled fidgeting and bad habits like touching your face or waving your arms around without realizing it, or on the flip side, you might come across as stiff, robotic and unfeeling.

In this video on body language, you’ll get a quick checklist with examples of non-verbal cues to watch for when speaking in public or on camera. I use the easy acronym P.E.G.S., which stands for Posture, Eye contact, Gestures and Smile.

Take a look at the examples for each category in the video to see how many of them you’re guilty of doing… then ask yourself how that might influence the success of the video’s overall objective.

In case there’s still a part of you that wants to argue that your position and experience speak for themselves, and your body language shouldn’t make a difference, I leave you with the immortal words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

When the way you deliver meets up with the words you say you are speaking in unison. That is when your intended message is reinforced and your credibility shines through.

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