Do your body languages and gestures contradict the words that come out of your mouth?
If you ever need to communicate or persuade you need to be sure you’re not betraying yourself unconsciously with poor body language or negative gestures.
The first post in this series got you started with you with some basic gesture ‘vocabulary’ you can use to positive effect. The second post presented the ‘Terrible 13’ – those negative gestures to be avoided at all costs.
Here are seven really powerful gestures and body language elements that combine the gesture ‘vocabulary’ from the first post to provide you with an extremely effective set of gestures that have a universally positive and powerful effect..
1. “I have nothing to hide”. Stand straight with good straight posture and relax your shoulders so that you’re not too stiff in appearance. Position your feet at about shoulder width, one slightly more forward than the other (to steady yourself), and lean in slightly. Hold your elbows at about 90 degrees and turn your hands to your conversation partner or audience, palms up, fingers slightly splayed, showing them your fully open palms. Make sure they have an unimpeded view of your solar plexus.
An alternative version that gives the same effect and can give you variety, especially when presenting to a large audience where you want to make yourself look bigger on a stage, is to spread you arms out from the shoulders, again hands and fingers up with your palms facing forward fully.
Showing your palms is always positive body language.
2. “From the heart” / “I mean this sincerely”. Bend your elbows so that the palms of your two hands are facing your chest, bring your slight splayed finger tips in so that they almost touch your sternum, with fingertips pointed towards your chest. This is classic body lanaguge that many of use already use unconsciously – watch those around you. Very persuasive.
3. Authoritative but not aggressive. Use in any situation where you’d love to be able to use the generally aggressive and negative gesture of pointing your forefinger. Instead of pointing with forefinger, which is aggressive body language, bring your forefinger and thumb together and relax other your fingers alongside these two. Use as a pointer to the your audience when you wish to make an authoritative impression. Use it to drive home a point, or punctuate multiple points or sub points. For extra emphasis on multiple points use it like a hammer knocking in a nail.
4. “I’m in control of the situation“. Use the “basketball’ in this situation. Bring your palms together and raise your hands to the level of the top of your abdomen and then open them out to about the width of your body. Keep the palms facing one another, and your fingertips facing your audience. Pretend you’re cupping a basketball in your hands. This gesture can accompany statements like “I have this completely under control”. If you want to emphasize your point strongly can beat out the last few words with your basket ball – “I have this completely (tap your basketball) under (tap again) control (tap again).
5. “This is well thought out“. The forefinger of one of your hands counts off fingers of your other hand as a number of consecutive points are made. Hold your counting finger on the counted finger until your point is fully made (“Step 1…”, “Step 2″…). Watch out for how powerful communicators in business and politics use this powerful body language to great effect.
6. “That’s that”. Just like a karate chop – the chop signifies a definitive point, one that is not in doubt or up for discussion. It signals “I’m finished“, “that’s that“, or “end of discussion“. The message of this gesture is unmistakeable.
7. ‘Steepling’ of the fingers’. Steepling of the fingers conveys a high confidence in whatever you are saying, and a lot of research has shown that it has a large impact upon the credibility of your message. This is great body language – but don’t overuse it – and be careful not to let a steeple degenerate into interlaced fingers which look more like a wringing of your hands – and convey low confidence in your message.
Make these Gestures Your Own
Rehearse these gestures until they feel comfortable and natural to you, understand where they should be applied, and immediately begin to integrate them into your communications with others – whether on a one to one, one to many (presentation) or one to camera basis.