I’m reading the book “Winning Body Language: Control the Conversation, Command Attention, and Convey the Right Message Without Saying a Word” by Mark Bowden and really enjoying it. I’ve given countless seminars, lectures, and presentations in the last decade. I like to think I’m a pretty expressive guy, but Bowden’s information stresses that importance of body language to an even further degree than I was aware of. For example: he argues 55% of what people take from what you’re saying is from your body language. 38% of the impressive they receive is from your tone of a voice. And a mere 7% is from the content of your words. This seems impossible, given the fact that most people spend the most time perfecting the content of a presentation – not how they’re standing or holding their hands or pacing! But I believe he’s right.
As speakers and educators, and even salesman, it’s too easy to forget that everything we do conveys our message, not just what we’re actually saying. And it makes me wonder, am I sending the message I really want to? Is my body language giving off clues I don’t want it to? When we’re trying to win people over, we focus on the content. But that it isn’t enough.
Think of some of your favorite speakers. Did they smile when they entered the room? Did they exude confidence? Did they raise and lower their voice to make their presentation more powerful? How did they hold their hands? I found Bowden’s remarks about the placement of one’s hands especially interesting. When I lecture, I’m usually so enthusiastic I end up waving my hands all over the place. I pace. But if I want to tone if down and convey trust to my audience, I should hold my hands near my stomach. Not completely down at my sides, but hovering. This position will also slow your breathing.
Audiences mimic the feelings and sentiments conveyed by a presenter. If the presenter is sad or fearful or unhappy, the audience is going to feed off that vibe. And likewise, an audience member is going to walk away with an impression of happiness and confidence if you’re confident and content. If you’re curious about what impression you’re conveying (whether you’re aware of it or not!), consider videotaping yourself. Try purposefully changing your tone of voice and facial expressions and analyze the different reactions you receive. Ask someone to give you their critical opinion of your presentation and what message they came away with – not just a recitation of your content.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
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