Your Spoken Word Is Not Enough 

When preparing for a presentation, you start by thinking “What do I want to say?” The focus is on ourselves. How will it go? What is best?

Think bigger. As a communication coach, I tell my clients all the time “I’m going to tell you something important: it’s not about you.”

It’s about your listener. How one successfully reaches a communication goal is by thinking about what tools will help you effectively get your message across. That means choosing the method that best resonates with your listener. Ask yourself “What tools will help us get from here to there?”

Thirty years in this business has shown me that a powerful and useful tool is gesticulating. Use your hands and body to emphasize and clarify the verbal messaging.

When you talk, you are communicating via two channels: audio and video. Verbally delivering credible information is not enough. The key is to align those audio and video components by focusing on your non-verbal messaging.

Here are the top three gestures to project non-verbal confidence:

  1. Keep one body part on the table as much as possible. Best is your forearm at an angle. It conveys that you are approachable and attentive, which is crucial when building trust.
  2. Maintain “face contact.” In American business culture, eye contact is a necessary ingredient for establishing trust. A great way to practice this tool is to look at your listener anywhere between the bridge of the nose and forehead to ensure they feel acknowledged and validated.
  3. People also listen with their eyes. so use slow, purposeful gestures. When making a point in a meeting, use an expressive gesture. For example, expand your hands away from each other while commenting, “we’ve seen a lot of growth.” You can even practice this when you’re ordering at your favorite coffee shop. How would you describe “no milk, two sugars?” Try it and see how perfect they’ll make your drink every time.

 

Practice these and they will come more naturally to you. It’s worth the effort because you will be a more effective, more persuasive communicator.

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