As children we laughed each time our fairy tale friend said some intentional untruth and his nose grow a bit, didn’t we? The truth of this story is our body actually does the same thing. It calls to question that what we are saying may not be what we believe to be true, and hence “tells” on us. It’s called “body language.” Polygraph tests prove the truth of this as easily as watching a child twitch and wriggle when asked a fault-finding question.
Research shows that body language or nonverbal communication speaks louder than the words we use – which actually account for only 7 percent of communication. Our voice, tone and rhythm account for 35 percent of what we are saying, and our body language – expression, posture, gestures which drive home points most effectively account for 58 percent. We can be perceived as confident, credible, and competent before we speak if we synchronize our body language to ‘say’ the same as our 42 percent.
What you wear, how you walk into a room, make eye contact, shake hands, smile, and even choose where you sit in a meeting all speak to your level of professionalism. It takes less than 6 seconds to make an impression upon someone who does not know you, be it positive or negative. Woefully, if the impression your body language makes is less than stellar, it will take as many as 10 positive encounters to correct that perception.
Here are three steps to making a lasting impression in business:
1.) Think before you dress! Be aware of the audience in which you’ll be seen, and dress appropriately. Especially your shoes. Is your audience conservative or trendy? Bankers or techies? In any case, your clothes should be clean, pressed and appropriate and shoes well cared for. Stand before a full-length mirror and ensure the details are tended to: Buttons and hems, zippers and tears. Does it fit well? Can you sit comfortably?
2.) Know your why. Why are you there? Making a presentation for a sale? Networking for your business or a job? Meeting upper level executives for promotion? Be knowledgeable of who will be in the room and a little research of your audience. This called showing up, prepared.
3.) Looking well and knowing your why will prepare you, cut back on fear, and make you feel comfortable which helps with confidence. The third step to making a lasting impression is to breathe. Deeply! In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe three good times before you enter the room. Yes it’s simple, yet impacting. Your body will be relaxed enough for your expressions and gestures to be synergistic with your words so that you will be presenting your authentic self – and it does not get any better than that, honey! So stand straight, shoulders back, head up, put a genuine smile on your face and go for it!