The Career Connection: Better Body Language in Business Meetings
When you’re in a business meeting, it is often more than your simple words that everyone else is paying attention to. Your demeanor, your facial expressions, your posture are but three of many non-verbal cues that coworkers, clients and superiors will use to size you up. The elements of powerful body language are:
POSTURE – Slump down into your chair? Lean too far back? Slouch over the conference table? All of these nonverbal communication cues reveal to others in the room that you are not alert, not engaged in the proceedings and that you have little respect for anyone else’s time. The key is the same as your mother taught you: sit straight with your back and shoulders square, don’t lean back (it makes you look cavalier and disengaged) or slouch to either side, and don’t hunch over the table. Lean slightly forward with your back straight to appear attentive.
EYE CONTACT - Don’t bury yourself in your notes, look the presenter in the eye both during their presentation and during any questions or comments you make about the material. Making effective eye contact is the easiest, most surefire way to appear engaged and to focus your attention on the meeting.
DRESS – Come to all meetings dressed appropriately, with clean, pressed clothing, and neatly combed hair. You would be amazed at how easily this conveys to others that you mean business, and it also helps you feel prepared and self-assure.
ORGANIZATION – Show up to any and all business meetings prepared not only to listen, but to engage. Bring a notebook and all pertinent materials. Take notes where appropriate but don’t lose yourself them.
THE W’s OF SEAT SELECTION – Where you sit in the meeting room says a lot about you. At a standard conference table, unless you are a presenter or a leader of the proceedings, do not sit at one of the ends. Be conscious of who you sit next to. Do not select a screw off as a neighbor, for you will be associated with them by proximity. Also, try not to sit next to your friends. The temptation to talk with them and over the presenter will be avoided if you choose a seat away from them.
NO FIDGETING – Keep your hands on the table, do not click your pen, or tap it against the rim of the table, do not doodle in your notes, and keep your attention on the topic at hand.
Remember, business meetings are great opportunities to present yourself as a thoughtful, engaged and prepared employee. Better your body language to send the right message without saying a word.