I recently had the opportunity to attend a symphony led by a great conductor. As he elegantly moved his arms and his body, I became aware of how his subtle movements connected with the musicians. A conductor never says a word during the performance yet he carefully coordinates beautiful expressive music. As I pondered his great skill, I thought how it relates to the messages sales people convey to prospects. I thought about how important body language is to the salesperson’s ability to persuade a prospect to commit to doing business together.
You may have spent hours crafting your sales message and selecting just the right words but is your body communicating something different? Did you know that your words convey only 7% of the message? Your tone of voice accounts for 38% of the effectiveness, while your body is 55%. How much time and energy have you focused on the physical aspect of your message?
Here are five hints and tips from experts in public speaking, sales and law enforcement about the messages your body sends.
- Smile a real sincere smile. A sincere smile involves not only the muscles around the mouth but also the “crow’s feet” around your eyes. Sanja in a Slide Share presentation said it so eloquently, “The value of a smile is priceless, yet it is the cheapest, easiest, most rewarding and most sincere gift to anyone that crosses your path.” When you appear friendly with a smile it puts others at ease and they will connect with you. Tight lips do just the opposite. Others will feel ill at ease and think you are hiding something.
- Make a lasting first impression – Enter the room calm and confident standing straight and tall. Be attentive and walk to your location purposefully. This posture commands respect from the first moment. It sends the message that you know what you are about to discuss.
- Connect with your eyes – Some say to view the audience as if they are in their underwear and it will put you at ease. This is not true. In fact, it can make both you and the audience distracted and uncomfortable. Positive and genuine communication includes a comfortable gaze. Look directly at the audience and refer to your notes as little as possible. You can divide the room in quadrants to ensure you distribute your attention to the full audience. Find a friendly face in each quadrant and speak directly to that person. Everyone in the quadrant will feel you are speaking to him or her.
- Control your hands – Your body including your hands can be expressive and help communicate your message. However, people often wring their hands, fiddle with their rings, or rattle the contents of their pockets when they are nervous. These habits send the message you are uneasy and can dilute the impact of your message. Video yourself and then watch for these habits in your video. Awareness can help you eliminate them.
- Use appropriate gestures – Use a full flat hand to indicate an increase or decrease. It can add emphasis to your speech. But be aware many gestures mean different things in different cultures. Members of the audience may be from different backgrounds or you may be asked to speak in a foreign country. So, take care when using gestures. A good source to check the meaning is Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands by Morrison and Conway. The book covers the cultural norms in over 60 countries.
Using these techniques can help you send the right message and get a warm reception rather than a cold shoulder.
Note: Sanja’s slides available at http://www.slideshare.net/vusa/the-value-of-a-smile
Another source for studying the experts: TED Talks (http://www.ted.com/) – speakers get a maximum of 18 minutes to deliver their message. This is a world-class place to view the best speakers all collected in one place.
About the Author: Phyllis Mikolaitis is a sales coach, author and speaker with over 30 years’ global experience. She is dedicated to taking you beyond the typical “how to” courses to the heart of persuasion techniques incorporating insights and stories to win the sale. Read the other blog posts and listen to the podcasts on this site to learn more about storytelling and sales skills. You can get our free eBook on Storytelling, the Secret to Success when you sign up for our by-monthly newsletter.