Sage Business Expert Liz McLaughlin looks at how you can improve your verbal, vocal and visual communication to improve your sales and customer service.
During my last blog, I focused on the importance of effective eye communication and the need to ensure this supports the words we use to convey the message we want our listeners to receive. Whilst eyes are very powerful in expressing emotions, our posture and movement along with our gestures and facial expressions are also key communicators, so we need to work on these in order that we can be confident our body is supporting the message our words are giving.
Below are some tips to consider:
Posture and Movement
There’s no absolute right or wrong way to stand or move, but there are concepts that work. Our goal is to stand tall and move naturally and easily.
Keys to effective posture and movement:
- Stand tall. Poor upper body posture often reflects low self-esteem.
- Watch your lower body posture. Often neglected, the lower body can detract from what we are saying. Avoid sitting back on one hip, this conveys the message “I don’t want to be here”. Also, rocking, toe-tapping, going back and forth on heels/toes and pacing all indicate impatience, frustration or annoyance.
- Use the ‘Ready’ position. Lean slightly forward so you can bounce up and down on the balls of your feet, with your knees slightly flexed. This makes the lower body posture ‘mistakes’ impossible.
- Move. Movement increases our energy, reflects confidence and adds variety to our communications.
Gestures and Facial Expressions
Keys to Effective Gestures and Facial Expressions:
Leaders are judged by how they communicate, from posture and movement to the subtlest gestures and facial expressions. Words, no matter how eloquent, cannot transcend the messages portrayed by body language.
To communicate effectively, we need to be as open as possible in our face and gestures in a way that is natural to us. We can work to ensure better gestures and expressions in the following ways:
- Find out your habits. Find out how you look to others when you’re under pressure. Video yourself and ask others for constructive and honest feedback.
- Find your nervous gestures. Find out what you’re primary nervous gesture is then consciously avoid it. Your hands should fall comfortably to your side and be free to gesture when you get excited or wish to emphasise a point. Don’t put your hands in your pockets or cross your arms.
- You can’t over-exaggerate. Try to exaggerate your positive gestures and expressions.
- Smile! Which third are you in? Research has shown that one third of us has very open, smiling faces. Another third has neutral faces which can swing from a smile to a serious and intense look quickly. The last third have faces that look serious and intense even when they are smiling. Find out which you belong to. Perception is reality! Practice smiling and get those muscles working.
- Fake doesn’t wash! A natural smile is an important interpersonal skill because it immediately communicates how you are feeling, or at least people perceive how you are feeling by the look on your face. Fake smiles do not work and will be seen through immediately, so practice smiling and train your muscles so they’re ready.
Effective communication is an immensely valuable skill. By working through the tips provided in our “eye communication” blog, and now focusing on these posture, movement, gestures and facial expression tips, you can eliminate any undesirable habits and enhance your strengths.