Work in Japan Advice Board
Some communications experts say that human communication is 10% verbal, 40% intonation, and 50% gesture. If this is true, it means that mastering body language is even more important than mastering your English. Luckily, it’s much easier to learn about body language than to learn a language. Today, I want to look at some simple techniques that effective communicators use.
If You Want To Be Taken Seriously, Speak Up Early in the Meeting
This isn’t exactly body language, but it absolutely makes your presence felt as a leader in the discussion. You can speak about anything. It doesn’t even have to be important. But it is one of the most powerful techniques to make sure you are seen as vital to the meeting right from the very beginning.
It’s also important to maintain your presence throughout the meeting. Again, even if you feel like you have nothing to actively contribute, simple comments like “that’s interesting” or rephrasing what a person has just said as a question will guarantee that you’re noticed and seem to be actively participating.
Eye Contact and Facial Expressions
Look at your audience, not your Powerpoint notes. Look at all of the audience members, not just the people in front. Also, a useful technique is to not move your eyes while you are speaking. Instead, move your eyes after you have a finished a complete phrase or sentence.
In addition, don’t forget to smile! Because they are nervous, many bad public speakers try to play it cool and they don’t smile. This is a huge mistake because you will look bored, disinterested, and possibly condescending. A smile will also make you feel more positive. A smiling presenter appears confident, interested, and passionate.
Make Strong Assertions With Your Hands
When western politicians and business leaders make speeches, they turn their palms downward and make a gentle up and down motion to emphasizes ideas they feel very strongly about. This works especially well in presentations where the speaker is standing. Also, if you need to convey that an idea is crucial, this gesture is useful.
Build Trust & Rapport
When negotiating, avoid leaning back away from your counterpart because doing so gives the impression that you do not feel comfortable with or friendly towards the other person.
To build trust in negotiations, lean forward and hold your hand sideways as if you’re holding the sides of a shoebox. Gentle move your hands up and down to emphasize important points.
When asking questions or making concessions, place your hands on the table clearly showing your palms, look your counterpart in the eye and smile. This gesture can also be used at the beginning of a negotiation to appear friendly and warm.
These simple techniques can be used to enhance your words in business meetings. All of them can be mastered quickly -- much more quickly than mastering a foreign language. I recommend practicing them at home in front of a mirror or recording video.
Next time you’re in an international meeting, try to use them and see what happens!
Noel Bradshaw is the COO of Rosetta Stone Learning Center and started his career at management consulting firm Accenture. He came to Japan with the JET programme before joining Rosetta Stone Learning Center and has been with the company for 8 years.