Such is the power of initial impressions. In fact, research shows that impressions made in the first two seconds are so vivid it takes another four minutes to add 50 percent more impression – negative or positive – to that communication. And those first two seconds are almost entirely visual.
Which brings us to body language. Whether you’re going on a job interview, attending or conducting a meeting, or delivering a speech or business presentation, nonverbal communication matters. It can help you succeed or sink you within minutes.
Here are the most common body language mistakes:
- Failing to make eye contact
- Excessive movement (e.g., pacing, swaying, shifting)
- Not using enough hand gestures
- Little or no change in facial expression (animation)
- Playing with or touching hair, fingers, tie, pen, jewelry, etc., or other distracting habits
- Crossing arms over chest, front or reverse “fig leaf” (hands clasped in front or in back of you), hand(s) in pocket for long periods
- Inappropriate clothing or accessories which “say more than what you say”
We’ll leave you with this suggestion: When practicing a presentation or speech (you’re doing that, and recording it, right?), mute the sound during playback. That allows you to focus strictly on the visual, not the vocal. It’s a great way to spot your body language strengths and weaknesses.