You may be handsome, reasonably tall, well-dressed and may be good at talking but will it be sufficient to impress others? According to new research, your body language plays an important part in making a good impression in job interviews and business meetings. It communicates your confidence, thoughts and attitude in a non-verbal way and often decides your fate or outcome. They are controlled by our subconscious mind just as breathing, heart beat and other involuntary movements in the body.
Hence, some time, effort and attention has to be paid to our body language- hand gestures, eye movements, posture, facial expressions, dress, colour of dress, accessories, walking and sitting.
Even before you shake hands with someone or fold your hands in Namaste, the other person(s) you are going to meet have already made their first assessment.
12 Body Language Tips For Having A Perfect Business Meeting
Here are body language tips that will help you make a good impression while attending interviews, or while attending an important business meetings or discussion.
Walk upright, don’t bend or have drooping shoulders
Nothing communicates your energy and attitude as much as the way you walk. As you walk in to an interview room, a first impression or even sometimes hiring judgment is made within first ten seconds. That is when you should be seen at your best. You should neither walk slowly nor too fast.
Each stride should be one to two feet wide, shoulders should be pulled back and neck elongated. Your feet should be firmly on the ground and there is a scientific reason for it- it helps to be rational, creative and have great presence of mind, according to experts.
If you are asked wait in the reception area or a waiting room, you must ensure that your posture is upright and sits with confidence waiting for your turn. Some companies may have installed CCTV cameras to record your movements and also seek the opinion of the receptionist or front office manager regarding the body language and performance on arrival.
While walking into the room smile and have direct eye contact with the person you are going to meet apart from having a fleeting glimpse of others present.
Don’t lean backward or too forward
Once you are told to sit, gently adjust the chair if required without making sound and sit comfortably. Avoid hunching your shoulders or get your chin tucked into your chest. If you lean back, interviewers may judge you to be lazy while sitting at the edge of the seat and leaning forward may denote aggression – both are not desirable in business meetings or interviews. Ideal posture would be back straight and chest open with expansive shoulders.
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Appear at ease but not lazy but the posture should not be too stiff as to denote lack of confidence. It is good to maintain eye contact but don’t stare directly in the eye of the interviewer or chairman instead maintain face contact. Don’t get distracted by anything on the walls or let your eyes wander which denotes lack of focus and attention.
It is better to follow the body language of the interviewers- if they are leaning forward, you can also lean forward a bit. It will build better connection and rapport.
Hand Gestures are important
Both your hands can become a handicap or an advantage depending on how fruitfully you utilize it. Most people turn nervous and don’t seem to know how to use their hands while speaking or talking. You must have seen politicians and public speakers effectively gesticulating with their hands and fingers while making a point or drawing attention to themselves, sometimes even thumping the desk or podium. When greeting someone, let your handshake be confident and warm. A weak handshake denotes lack of confidence and lack of authority. As you have to give a handshake with right hand, keep all your belongings including resume or files on the left hand so that the right is free or else you may look clumsy transferring the folders to other hand before the handshake.
When gesturing keep your hands above the desk but below the collar bone so that you don’t appear aggressive or frantic. If you are positioned a feet away from the table, you must be comfortable with your hand gestures and leg movements.
According to experts it is better not to hide your hands instead you can use gestures and also show your palm that denotes honesty and desire to engage. This is sure to keep the interviewer calm and comfortable to pursue his conversation. The limbic brain picks up the positive signals from such gestures and helps the interviewer to get ahead with the rest of the questions.
Control your breathing
You can appear tensed or relaxed depending on your breathing patterns. According to experts, the candidate has to focus on the breathing throughout the session to give a good impression to the interviewer. It is better to inhale while listening to a question and exhale while talking. There is also a physiological reason for breath control during interviews and meetings. It will enable you to lower the heart rate, blood pressure and reduces stress associated with the event. It is better to take ten deep diaphragmatic breaths before the interview which should make you comfortable.
Nodding your head often
When an interviewer says something, if it is about the job profile, the company and any other information related to the job, then it is better to nod a few times when an important message is conveyed. Nodding your head too often may denote means you are in agreement with everything or sometimes not listening properly or be an ‘Yes’ person.
Don’t appear to be in a hurry
You might have taken leave or started early to be in time for the interview. You might have travelled some distance to attend it and might have waited half an hour or more for your turn to be called. And once you attend the interview, don’t appear to be bored or in a hurry after all you need the job. Avoid peeping at the clock or wrist watch which shows you are not that serious about the job. If the interview drags for a long time, it is likely that they are taking more time to assess you and possibly decide on your appointment then itself.
The art of exiting
As stated at the outset of the article, a candidate is assessed right from his entry into the building, reception area and subsequently to the board room. Once the interview process is over, even while departing, pay importance to posture and steps. If the interviewer or the hiring person gives a handshake, give a warm hand shake and thank them for their time. Mark Bowden who authored Winning Body Language points out that we must keep away any thoughts about the session while we depart as it could leave a negative impression on the panel. It is also better not to judge the body language of the interviewers as they may be adept at hiding their emotions or give any clue as to what decision they may be taking.
Avoid undesirable body movements and actions
There are some don’ts with respect to body language that will wreck your career prospects. It includes biting your nails, playing with your hair out of nervousness, clicking the ball point pen, vibrating your legs while your feet is on the toes. It is better to avoid touching your mouth while speaking.
Some people have the habit of adjusting the collar and smiling too often to please, this should be avoided, according to experts.
The best dress to wear for the interview
It is quite usual for some companies or organizations to suggest a dress code for business meetings or interview. Unless specified otherwise, a suit is best for interviews while women can wear pant suit. According to experts, suit denotes a sign of respect towards the company and the interviewing panel. Unpolished shoes denote lack of attention to detail and grooming. For technology jobs, suit is not a must but candidates can wear formal shirts and trousers. For government jobs, it is better to appear formal avoiding flashy style. Sales, marketing and management cadres require suits while automotive jobs may be quite harsh and greasy but for interview they can appear in formal clothes.
For women, it is better to pay close attention to not only dress but accessories too. Flash nail polish, jangly jewellery, backless shoes and showing too much of skin can only backfire. Even in hot summer, stockings of neutral colors can be used. Avoid leather jackets, short skirts three inches above knee and trendy hand bags.
Understand color psychology
You knowingly or unknowingly communicate through the choice of colors for your dress, watch, tie, trousers, shoes etc. The color of choice for interviews is blue that denotes stability, truth, calmness, security and confidence. Grey is also a formal colour and less distracting for both men and women. It gives a sophisticated look and quite pleasing too. As it is not distracting, interviewers will be focussed on what you say than your appearance. Black may be suited for trousers but not for shirts or churidars.
Although it represents authority and formality, it should be used with caution as too much black with a lighter contrasting colour especially for suits, could give a mourning feeling. Red is a passionate color but best avoided during interviews as it may denote aggression, violence, desire, power and greed. White denotes peace, purity and good for both men and women. Shirts, blouses with white can be safely used as it also suggest simplicity, and good ness. Some companies especially airlines have white and navy blue, while some have white and black, white-grey are all good combinations.
There are some colours which are quite gaudy and worn during social meetings, parties and functions. They are green, yellow, brown, orange, pink, violet and other tones. As a general rule use formal colors and avoid flashy colors. It may be true that posture, mannerisms, hand, facial and body gestures are more important than color but color reinforces a good impression formed and could help clinch a job.
Tone of your voice
Along with body movements and gestures, the tone of your voice has an important bearing on your success. High pitched voice and low pitched voice are not desirable. To get an optimal tone one can practice saying ‘Um hum, um, hum, um hum to relax voice. In telephonic interviews, it is the tone or your voice sound that matters.
Wear a smile
Research shows that smile can add to your attractiveness in interviews and meetings. It gives a sense of well-being and gives the feeling of warmth, trust and friendliness. Duke University researchers found that smiling faces are more recalled by people. When MRI was done on researchers who recalled smiling people, the orbitofrontal cortices or reward centers of the brain were very active. Smiling is infectious and people reciprocate creating good well and warmth. It also tells on the emotional state of the candidate.
Body language has become an important indicator of behavior as most often in interviews and meetings, the interviewer has only a short span of time to judge or evaluate the personality of the candidate. Even in routine life, we come across many people and it is not possible to judge all of them by talking and analyzing. Policemen, doctors, psychologists, shopkeepers, government officials, managers all use their power of judging people by body language to help assess somebody where quickly. Although the science of body language is not an exact science, it goes by some of the human traits, customs, beliefs and traditions acquired over the years and classified as desirable and non-desirable.
It is quite natural that those with desirable traits succeed in career and life. It also has an important bearing on the right selection of employees and workers thereby leading to increased productivity.