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Home » Performance

Allow your body to do all the talking

Submitted by on 28 Sep 2018 – 14:06

Some people walk into a room with a powerful aura and immediately have the crowd following them. They just ooze confidence, credibility, competence and charisma — or in simple terms — radiate a powerful leadership presence. Even before they open their mouth, people in the room involuntarily grant this person the highly coveted alpha position — that of a leader. Creating such a powerful ‘executive presence’ is no easy task. From head-to-toe, body language expert India Ford — founder of Talkbodylanguage — offers simple and subtle adjustments, which instantly changes your ‘energy’ and creates a powerful executive presence

Most leaders have the skill and functional expertise, but often fail to manifest a striking executive presence — and the lack of such a powerful persona is likely to hold them back from reaching the pinnacle of their careers. People often refer executive presence to a set of behaviours – which create a first impression about you – and, amazingly, this presence is almost always felt instantaneously, long before the person utters a word.

How can a person walk in and immediately create an impression that exudes executive presence? Are some people naturally blessed with an innate ability to attract, charm and influence the people around them? What is it that they do differently? How do they create this magical presence which is helping them boost their leadership brand?

If this magical presence is created before one speaks, then we can obviously remove the verbal content from the equation, which now leaves the most powerful communication device to take precedence — our body language!

Most people assume that communication takes place only when we talk, but nothing could be further from the truth. By the time you speak to introduce yourself, your body language will have already spoken a thousand words by sending fleeting cues which others will unconsciously pick up and use to make a powerful assessment about your levels of confidence, credibility and competence. The people who create this magical presence move in a different way — in a more relaxed, open and all-embracing manner.

Executive presence is all about how people communicate through their bodies and control the powerful information imparted through their body language in order to make a good impression.

Words do not play a part in creating an executive presence, as our brains are hardwired to make an instant assessment based purely on certain cues emanating through our body language.

These cues are transmitted through our posture, facial expression, the way we walk, the speed at which we walk, our gestures and several other factors. Each of these send powerful messages about our levels of confidence, credibility, competence trustworthiness and attitude. Even before we introduce ourselves, the other person unknowingly determines our levels of confidence, credibility, competence and our status —based only on what they see.

How can one develop that charismatic presence? Let me give you four very quick tips you can immediately apply to create a powerful first impression:

Posture: powerful body language begins with posture, i.e. the way you “hold” your body. It is vital because it creates the foundation. It is the first thing our brain is compelled to notice. Yes, your mother was absolutely right when she asked you to stand up straight! Before you start to walk, make sure to adjust your posture by pushing your shoulders back and down. Hold your head up in a vertical position and ensure your chin is parallel to the floor. Right from the moment you adjust your posture, you will boost the perception others have of you.

Speed: what’s one thing that will instantly determine how others assess your status, confidence and competence? It is the “speed” at which you walk. Some of the world’s most powerful people often walk at a slow and measured pace. Do remember that rushing in with very quick, jerky movements could immediately send a subliminal message of low status and high stress — suggestive of the fact that things aren’t quite under control. So make sure not to rush in anywhere. Control the speed at which you walk and project a slow and relaxed demeanour in order to create a positive image of control.

Facial expression: the next thing people notice is your facial expression. Your personality, attitude and state of mind will be visible by what people see on your face. When our face is at rest it can fall into what I call a default screensaver expression — which can often be stern. A stern expression can make people become defensive around you, or worse, avoid you altogether. Therefore, it is essential to keep your facial muscles calm and relaxed.

The smile: the simple smile is our most powerful gesture to convey warmth, confidence and approachability. It is vital for creating good vibrations. We’re not looking for a ’70s game show host thousand-watt all-teeth smile — just a simple half-inch upturn at the corners of the mouth will create a facial icebreaker and instantly make you look nonchalant, confident and approachable.

Think about the elements of a good impression that you want to be proficient at and work on them.

The world’s most powerful and successful people understand the power of their body language and the part it plays in ensuring a successful outcome in every interaction.

They understand how to harness the power of this influential language to ensure they exhibit a specific set of non-verbal behaviours which directly elevate their image, instantaneously creating that powerful executive presence while gaining a powerful competitive edge in every situation.

Leaving body language to chance is one of the most fundamental mistakes many aspiring leaders make — blissfully unaware that 55% of their communication is unconscious. However, those who are aware of this will gain a huge advantage over others, because, as with anything important, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. It is crucial for every leader to be mindful of how they “speak” through their bodies, simply because so much of the most powerful impression is created based on what people “see”.

It is also almost impossible to communicate effectively and congruently without having a basic knowledge of non-verbal communication. All our efforts to communicate effectively can be thrown out of kilter by the tiniest non-verbal gestures such as our posture, our walk, the way we make eye contact as we enter, our smile and the way we stand when getting ready to deliver a pitch.

To gain a powerful competitive edge in any situation, you have to apply a new way of thinking and learn how to utilize 100% of your communication channels – and not just the 7% (the words) that most people focus on, because it is only through your non-verbal communication that you can create that powerful X-factor.

For those who invest in understanding how to “speak” through their most powerful communication channel, the results will go beyond any professional qualification. Regardless of whether you desire to have an impact or influence and gain a powerful competitive edge in negotiations, meetings, speeches, pitches and presentations, it is your body language which will play a key role in the level of your success and how quickly you achieve it.

India Ford is an internationally renowned body language expert based in central London. She is a highly respected trainer, executive coach, business consultant and keynote speaker who remains constantly in demand. India’s wide range of prestigious clients include global media corporations, major advertising companies, global PR agencies, leading production companies, top-ranking law firms, heads of state, politicians and leaders of multiple Fortune 500 companies.