Today’s entry is an excerpt from my updated position paper, “How Important Are Nonverbal Signals?” Stay tuned in weeks to come for more insights into how your body language affects your organization’s goals and your own career prospects.
I break down nonverbal communication into two areas: Video tools and Audio tools. This makes it more straightforward to analyze strengths and challenges during communications training workshops. Moreover, it empowers my clients with a practical, easy to use system that helps them gauge their progress over the long run.
Today we’ll discuss your Video tools. Their main job is to help others judge how pleasant or positive you are. On the flip side of that coin, of course, this can also lead them to believe you are negative or cranky.
What traits make up your Video tools?
- Action: This is an expansive category. An erect posture, appropriate and natural gestures, a tilt of the head, and a forward lean allow you to better connect with an audience, a reporter, or public officials.
- Facial expression: Facial feelings communicate a wide range of emotions. Perhaps the most powerful symbol is the smile. Just don’t try to fake these expressions. Few of us possess that talent. Also note that overdoing it connotes high anxiety.
- Eye contact: Pay attention to your audience, be it one person or many, not your notes or slides. Solid eye contact suggests honesty, confidence, and credibility.
- Wardrobe: Save the fashion statements for your personal time. When on the professional clock, aim for an image of authority.
- Props: Plot out how you plan to use anything you must handle, from a book to your product to a remote control device.
To get a better sense of how your Video tools are operating, record yourself on video, then play it back—repeatedly. Nothing fancy necessary; recording to your mobile device will do the trick. I don’t advise doing this in front of a mirror since you get a backward image of yourself, and that matters; while it may be better than nothing, it can prove confusing.
Regular reviews of your nonverbal performance when you speak in public, deal with reporters, and petition public officials is mandatory if you plan to increase influence for yourself and your organization. Assess your Video tools every few months. Shine a spotlight on your strong points when you speak. Work over the long run to either improve those qualities you find challenging or eliminate them from your repertoire.
What other techniques for assessing your video performance have you used successfully?