A Harvard Business School study revealed that that 55% of the success of your business speaking is dependent upon your non-verbal communication. A 2007 study by the American Optometric Association found that vision was the number one sense that people would not want to live without. Dr. Vince Young, an opthamologist at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, says, “Americans tend to fear vision loss more than anything – more than memory loss or heart disease.”
Savvy business speakers, like actors, are always mindful of the fact that their face-to-face listeners are watching. They are observing four basic non-verbal communication pathways, and one of these is your body language/gestures.
Messages communicated through body language vary according to culture. Here are a few things to remember about general perception among people raised in the United States:
- A smile is the most direct way to say, “I’m happy to be in your presence.”
- The head nod is very important in communication and tells the communication partner “I understand” and/or “I agree”. It elicits a positive response in the partner and is particularly effective for salespeople and anyone involved in business discussions or negotiations.
- Raising your hand or fingers in front of your mouth during business discussions can communicate a withholding of information or reluctance to be completely forthcoming.
Remember that your face-to-face listeners are not just passively seeing: they are watching you carefully and interpreting meaning from every aspect of your body language. As you speak for business, maintain awareness of these three aspects of your body language and gestures, and strive to make any physical adjustments necessary — even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. The more you practice new behaviors, the more comfortable these behaviors will feel “on your body”.
And look for my next blog, which will provide information about three more aspects of body language/gestures — to help you project a positive and professional image when you speak for business.