Tell that prospect you're the one for them with these powerful nonverbal communication techniques
A presentation can make or break your business.
Done right, a pitch to a huge prospective customer could bring in the revenue and status your business craves. A brilliant project report on some work you've recently completed could convince an existing customer to hire you again. Or, you might secure investment in your company by persuading Angels or Dragons to part with some cash.
What you present certainly matters, but how you present it can matter more. Review these nonverbal communication skills to help give you the ultimate professional advantage when presenting in business.
Show you're listening
Nonverbal communication can account for 90% of everything we say and do. Yet very few people understand how to improve the physical side of communication.
Listening is one of the tactics you may use to build trust with another person. "You must send a clear signal to the person talking that you are engaged and you are listening," believes body language expert Mark Bowden.
An advisor to presidents and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and current Prime Ministers of G8 powers, Bowden is an international authority on human behavior and body language, and creator of TRUTHPLANE, a communication training company. He's written three books on the subject and gives keynote speeches worldwide to share his insights and methodology.
Bowden argues one can employ specific behaviours to change another person's perception of you, offering these instructions when you are talking with someone whose trust you want to earn.
"Tilt your head slightly to one side, as this shows the talker your ear," says Bowden. Then, add a smile, showing the friendly wrinkles around your eyes. Next, Bowden says to "get good eye contact, and nod your head as the person is talking - it sends a clear signal to the person that you are listening to them, and that you're engaged with them."
Use body language
Bowden also says you can use body language techniques to make a good first impression, maintain composure under pressure, and manipulate others subconsciously into feeling comfortable around you.
In his book Winning Body Language for Sales Professionals, Bowden helps people to learn how to read situations and cues in prospective customers' body language, understand when to sit and stand, and shares tips to use body language that will convey positive energy, persuade and influence, and put customers at ease. He offers these three body language tips:
- In a meeting, take up space. When you sit down, avoid pulling in your chair close to the table or desk. Give yourself extra room, because it will signal you're in a position of power, "much like the alpha male or female in a group," says Bowden.
- Move with economy. Have all of your presentation tools ready to go and bookmarked so you can move effortlessly to the materials you need. Slow, purposeful movements will allow you to maintain eye contact with your audience and will send the message that you're in control.
- Expose your belly. "It's very easy for me to decide exactly where to put my hands when talking to someone," says Bowden. When talking, he encourages people to keep their hands at belly-height with palms open, elbows bent, and arms slightly outstretched. It's a position Bowden calls the "truth plane" - by exposing your stomach, which is the most vulnerable part of your body, you are sending a subconscious message to the other person that you aren't hiding anything and can be trusted.
To improve your body language, you must first believe in its value. Whether calling on a potential customer for the first time, delivering a presentation, or making a sale, how the message is delivered matters as much as what's being said.