July 26, 2017 By Scott Simone
April 7, 2017
The Do’s and Don’ts of Body Language in Meetings
Meetings are one of the best opportunities for teams and clients to talk with one other – communication is their purpose, in obvious fact. But it’s not always the words we choose to speak that do the communicating; it’s our body language, more often than not! You could be reading the text of the most rousing speech in the history of mankind, but if you look half-asleep, in part because you’re fully reclined in a conference room chair, you might not deliver the impact you had hoped. It’s about others’ perception of your engagement and attitude.
Without a doubt, there are do’s and don’ts for body language during meetings, both in person and via video. So sit up straight and take notice, because we’ve got some body language tips for you!:
Do: Plant your feet on the ground and sit up straight. If standing, keep your shoulders back, chin up and arms down. Simple and effective, these maneuvers make you appear more confident and at ease, while communicating that you’re engaged with the speaker or your audience. They also help prevent that most pernicious of bodily signals, the slouch.
Don’t: Be cross(ed). Crossing your arms is comfortable (and if chilly, warming), but it can give the impression that you’re ‘closed off,’ either to the ideas being presented or your colleagues in general; it’s a visual ‘harrumph.’
Do: Use your palms. Unlike folded arms, upturned palms indicate that you’re interested and open to discussion — you’d like to see what your colleagues have to offer. Conversely, downturned palms can show decisiveness or firmness on a topic, which, at select moments, can be used as an advantage.
Don’t: Fidget. It’s distracting, tips off boredom and can detract from the efforts of other speakers. You don’t need to act like a statue, either – just be aware that your motions can impact the meeting, for better or worse.
Do: Maintain eye contact. Not in an aggressive, asserting-dominance-over-everyone-else kind of way, but as a friendly way to show that you’re interested and engaged in what your colleagues and clients have to say. This is especially important during video conferences, when eye contact and facial expressions are just about the only visual clues available. Obviously, you’ll be looking at a screen (and not at your actual teammate), but remember that it’s still quite easy for them to tell when your eyes are wandering… a clear sign that your attention is doing the same.
The moral of the story? Show others that you’re interested in them, and they’ll show an interest in you.
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