If you’ve ever stood in front of a crowded room to give a presentation or negotiated with a business partner, you understand this: the words you say matter, yet, what you don’t say matters as well.
Your facial expressions, body language, and even how you stand can have a significant impact on how your message is received. In fact, it’s estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of communication is nonverbal. This means you could say the same thing ten different ways and create ten different meanings using only your body language and inflection.
Effective leaders know this and polish their nonverbal communication to optimize their impact in every room they walk into. If you’re looking to enhance your non-verbal communication, we’re sharing four techniques that can help you embody effective leadership.
Why Is Non-Verbal Communication Vital for Leaders?
In a perfect world, your words would speak for themselves. But unfortunately, having poor non-verbal communication can cause your leadership presence to dwindle. When you’re trying to manage a team, grow a company, or even improve your personal relationships, how you show up matters just as much as what you say.
Here are some notable reasons leaders prioritize the habit of practicing non-verbal communication:
- Commands respect and attention: Adopting confident postures, maintaining unwavering eye contact, and controlling unnecessary movements can project authority and garner respect. This can help you command attention during meetings, presentations, or negotiations.
- Helps avoid misinterpretation: Certain hand gestures and facial expressions can amplify message clarity while minimizing the likelihood of misinterpretation or dismissiveness.
- Builds rapport: Effective non-verbal communication can help you establish a stronger presence and connection with your team.
- Amplifies success: Mastering non-verbal cues fosters superior communication, bolsters team unity, and propels you toward becoming a more effective leader. This skill can prove pivotal in securing crucial clients and rallying your team toward success.
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4 Tips to Elevate Your Non-Verbal Communication
When creating a plan to improve your non-verbal communication skills, concentrate on refining one aspect at a time while seeking feedback from your team or peers. Here are four impactful methods to master effective non-verbal communication:
1. Practice Good Posture
Exemplary leaders exhibit impeccable posture, maintaining an upright stance, whether standing or sitting. Begin by focusing on keeping your head up and avoiding slouching.
Keeping your head held high exudes confidence, especially during public speaking engagements. It commands attention and can be instrumental in making a good first impression, fostering engagement in business meetings, and thriving at networking events.
By exuding confidence, you enhance receptiveness to your message, benefiting all aspects of your personal and professional endeavors.
2. Maintain Strong Eye Contact
Competent leaders establish eye contact with those they speak to and give their full attention when others talk to them. A lack of eye contact can inadvertently convey shyness or insecurity, so it’s crucial to be mindful of how your eye contact is perceived.
Striking the right balance and maintaining strong (yet not overpowering) eye contact demonstrates involvement and genuine interest in the speaker’s words.
Purposeful eye contact gives an impression of trustworthiness and charisma, proving valuable in cultivating personal relationships and resolving conflicts.
3. Resist the Urge to Fidget
Effective leaders exhibit restraint by managing fidgeting tendencies and refraining from placing their hands in their pockets. They maintain composure by minimizing excessive movements.
Fidgeting can be a sign of nervousness or anxiety, so even if you feel nervous, try to keep your movements small to appear more confident.
Staying still demonstrates poise and self-assurance, particularly in high-pressure scenarios, such as negotiations or challenging decision-making processes. This self-assurance demonstrates to others that a leader is capable of handling pressure, fostering a sense of assurance and encouragement among their team.
4. Use Hand Gestures Wisely
Many leaders know hand gestures can be a powerful tool in effective communication. One notable gesture these leaders use is “steepling,” where they bring their hands towards their chest or face and press their fingertips together. Additionally, a firm handshake holds immense significance. Gestures like these are associated with confidence, self-assuredness, and even superiority.
Purposeful hand movements differ from fidgeting. Consider influential speakers you’ve observed; they utilize gestures strategically to emphasize their arguments and exude confidence. Appropriate hand gestures significantly contributes to their persuasiveness and captivates their audience.
The Bottom Line
Astute leaders prioritize strategic non-verbal communication to maximize their influence. Enhancing these aspects of your body language can significantly optimize your leadership impact and negotiating skills, as appearance often carries as much (or even greater) weight than spoken words.
Need help determining where to begin in improving your non-verbal communication skills? Take our free leadership assessment to identify which areas you should focus on first.