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The importance of body language

The importance of body language – How to be seen, heard and felt… Part 1

In this latest post, I wanted to have a look at the significant area of influencing others comprised by posture (whether seated or standing).

As mentioned in the post ‘Talk to the hand’, which discussed the importance of gestures and some tips around maximising these, there are 3 elements of impact: words (the message itself), vocal tone and lastly body language. The percentage split as far as impact goes is as follows: 7 (words) 38 (vocal tone) 55 body language.

It therefore follows that the elements of body language are vital in making an impression and the largest factors of your body are in play with your posture and the way you move.

Posture is best described as the way we sit or stand.

You know those mornings when its all going wrong and finally its “brain to body – time to feel depressed and tired” and the body says: “no problem brain – coming right up!” manifests a tired posture, which, sure enough, creates feelings of fatigue and depression. This chain reaction happens without conscious thought, but it is undeniable that the link between our body language and how we feel is inextricably linked. In other words, in order to feel a certain way, we have to use your body in a certain way.

Why is this fantastic news?

Well if you already use your body language to create emotional states unconsciously, you can use your body language on purpose to create feelings of emotional certainty, energy and confidence. It’s just a matter of switching off your automatic pilot, asking yourself the question: ‘how do I need to feel in this situation?’ and then adopting the appropriate posture.

(By the way, facial expressions come into this and a smile is one of the fastest ways to change your – and others – emotional state as mentioned in my earlier blog “I cant take my eyes off you”; the problem is, when we’re under stress, the last thing we think of doing is to smile!!)

So remember, the fastest way to feel good in a challenging situation is to consciously choose an empowering posture.

That’s the internal secret sauce taken care of – and it really does work!! And fast!

The external part is about creating the impression of yourself you want in others.

Ever asked yourself what it is about someone that gives them a certain ‘something’? You may not even know them to speak to. The chances are that in most situations, the strongest impression will be made through the body language. Whether we like it or not, we are impressed by the way certain people hold themselves, either sitting or standing (just as we make character assassinations of people who slouch slump or habitually adopt a less than resourceful posture). As with good public speakers, this never happens by accident – ever!! Good posture and stance come from hard work, discipline and self-awareness. It’s about remembering that you cannot not communicate. Whether you like it or not you are sending out signals on a subconscious – and often on a conscious – level about how you are feeling about yourself, or about others, or both, through your posture and stance, together with the gestures and facial expressions that we have mentioned earlier.

So, rule of thumb:- sit up straight as often as you can at work; try not to use the back of your chair. It’ll do wonders for your lower back and will eventually become habitual, so long as you make it a focus. Remember, you are sending internal signals of strength and wellbeing by doing this, as well as letting the world know that your self-image demands a good strong posture. If you communicate face to face on a regular basis, remember that, if seated, leaning in towards them with an open posture (ie no folded arms) sends a very positive message of confidence and amity. If you want others to relax, you can also lead others into a more relaxed state by leaning back in your chair on occasion. There is no right or wrong posture, or stance, as long as you adopt it WITH purpose and ON purpose.

It isn’t rocket science; nor is it easy to remain vigilant, especially when you have spent your life to date unconsciously replicating body language consonant with the emotional state your brain is telling you to feel.

As a public speaking coach and a speaker at events myself, I get the importance of body language and would be happy to help you find your “I am invincible” look

Or why not download our Free -e-book – A.G.E.N.D.A and find out what will get your audience to sit up and pay attention.

Oliver Medill

Public speaking coach, mentor and evangelist. Author of the book The Impact Formula. Get it here!