Voted the #1 body language professional in the world, Mark Bowden is passionate about giving people the tools they need to communicate effectively, win trust, and build credibility every time they speak.
His expertise was recently called on in an article for Entrepreneur, which outlined why body language is crucial to your success and five strategies to set you on the right track.
Take Advantage of Your Full Height
Four or five inches in height — in other words, the difference between the 25th percentile and the 75th — could translate to a salary increase of 9 to 15 percent, according to research published in 2015. Though you can’t grow taller by sheer force of will, you can make use of every inch you’ve got by standing (and sitting) tall.
“Power, status and confidence are nonverbally displayed through the use of height and space,” said Carol Kinsey Goman, creator of the LinkedIn Learning course “Body Language for Leaders.”
Don’t be Afraid to Take Up Space
If you’re looking to add a few more notches to your perceived height, make a habit of taking up more space: Stand up and move around when presenting in a meeting, hook your elbow on the back of your chair while seated, or spread out your belongings on the conference table, Goman said.
Another strategy: Sit a handspan from the table in meetings and negotiations, [Mark] Bowden said. You’ll appear taller because others in the room will be able to see more of you, and when you reach out to take something from the table, such as a notepad or glass of water, your arm will stretch out further — resulting in the perception that you’re taking up more space. For better or worse, our built-in instincts tell us that big is more powerful than small, Bowden said. People tend to award higher salaries, honor, and resources to those they perceive as more powerful.
Don’t Discount the Power of a Smile and Eye Contact
Want to be memorable? Break out a toothy grin. Research published in 2015 suggests that “socially positive signals conveyed by smiling faces” may prompt people’s memory of both the person they met and the meeting’s context — especially if they perceived both of those factors as positive. Smiling at someone also often triggers them to return the gesture — and that muscle movement, in turn, can positively impact their emotional state.
And it may be one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s oft-repeated for a reason: Eye contact projects confidence. Aim to maintain eye contact for 50 to 60 percent of the time you speak with someone, Goman said. Here’s a strategy to help you build the habit: When starting a conversation, look into the other person’s eyes for long enough to note their color.
Talk With Your Hands
People perceive quality leaders to be calm and assertive, and there’s a type of body language that denotes those qualities: open-handed gestures at navel height. This movement inherently suggests that you’re honest with nothing to hide, and it also projects trust, credibility, confidence and calm, Bowden said — all before you’ve even opened your mouth to speak.
Identify Your Common Nervous Gestures, Then Work to Break Those Habits
Whether it’s twirling your hair, wagging your foot, rolling your neck or fidgeting with your hands, you likely have a go-to nervous tic (and if you’re unsure what it is, your peers can likely point you in the right direction). Repetitive anxious behavior often takes away from the image you’re trying to portray: a calm, cool and collected leader.
An expert in body language, human behaviour, and communication, Mark Bowden’s inspiring, energetic, engaging, and entirely entertaining talks memorable talks not only educate, but have proven life changing for audiences.
Interested in learning more about Mark and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].