How To Use Body Language to Appear More Confident

Please help me welcome my guest blogger, Julia Hunter. Julia is a public speaker throughout the nation and is a 20-year veteran law enforcement officer. She’s a pre-published fiction writer and teaches workshops on gadgets for busy writers, law enforcement and body language. Her website is at

by Julia Hunter

Do you think because you’re an introvert, it’s hard for you to succeed in business and social situations? Do you want to appear more accessible and out-going?

Most people who know me assume I’m an extrovert; in fact, they would swear I’m an extrovert. However, I’ll share a secret -- I score off the chart as an introvert. So how do I manage as a public speaker? I prepare, listen, and watch for body language cues.

Despite the label you identify with, the bottom line is that you are who you are. You know how you feel when you’re in a group, or when you’re giving a presentation, or when pitching your story – so my suggestion is to focus on where you are at and where you want to be.

Nothing will substitute for preparation, but body language can help with the transition from “about to vomit” to confident interactions.

Public Speaking: Book Signings, Workshop Presenter, Media Interviews

DO: Pick your clothes carefully. I tend to jingle change in my pocket and put my hands in the pockets. The former gives off a signal that I’m nervous and the latter gives a signal that I don’t want to be there. Although both may be true, I have a job to do so just take away the temptation and wear something with no pockets. Most of my suit jackets still have the pockets stitched up. Extra tip: If there is a possibility of television press coverage, wear any color shirt except white and choose solid colors vs. patterns

DON’T: Point when you talk to people. A study comparing audiences of the same speech delivered with different body language, found that 68% of audience members who were pointed at didn’t hear the message and left with a negative opinion of the speaker.

DO: Talk with open palms – it conveys sincerity and trust

DO: Locate receptive/engaged people seated in the left, right and center of the audience and rotate making eye contact with them. It will appear you are looking at everyone in the audience but won’t seem so intimidating for you.

Social Settings: Mixers, Parties, Conferences

DO: Stand with feet no wider than your shoulders (less for women), and keep your arms in an open position. Hold a drink if you need a crutch; it’s small enough to not appear as a barrier.

DON’T: Stand apart from the crowd or cross your legs and/or arms – you will give off signals that you are unapproachable.

DO: Smile. It’s contagious. It doesn’t have to be an animated toothy smile – just be pleasant.

DO: Walk slowly to mingle, look among the clusters of people for a friend or someone who makes friendly eye contact.


DO: Control what you can about the agent/editor’s body position. Offer to shake their hand when you approach. Hand them a business card as you sit down. This will open their upper body at least momentarily, which makes them more receptive to receiving information.

DON’T: Play with your hair when pitching as it depicts insecurity and shyness.

DO: Mirror their body language subtly. If they itch their face, then touch your face shortly after. If they take a drink then you might choose to touch your glass, pick it up or drink yourself. Mirroring is way to build rapport at the subconscious level. Watch (loving) couples in restaurants to see mirroring in action.

DO: Keep both feet on the floor and sit with good posture, leaning a bit forward if possible. If the agent/editor mirrors this position then you have an interested audience.

These body language tips will certainly get you started in the right direction. If you have an interest to use body language more extensively and efficiently, you will need to identify a person’s normal movements and read their gestures in clusters.

Do you have any body language suggestions that work for you? Do you have a situation/scenario that you’d like help with? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

Best Wishes,


Next week's guest: 2008 Golden Heart winner and now NAL/Signet Eclipse author, Annette McCleave.

Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zones

Thanks so much for visiting my new blog. I’m really excited about it. I'm still trying to figure out the techie side of this, so please be patient with me if the format isn't perfect yet.

I’ve met a lot of writers over the years who are just like me: natural introverts. Some of us hide it better than others, some of us don’t try to hide it at all, nor do we want to. I’ve been wanting to do a blog for a while, but wanted to find a niche that was relatively untapped. One day I thought, what if there was a place on the web for others just like me, a place where we can embrace the wonderful aspects of being on the shy side, as well as learn to overcome the not-so-great parts of it? Thus, Once Written, Twice Shy was born (thanks to fellow Pixie Chick, Amy Atwell, for the name suggestion).

 I’ve got some great guest bloggers lined up. We’ll talk to a psychotherapist about what shyness is; we’ll learn how to do one-on-one interviews for research (I’d personally rather have a root canal); we’ll talk to a body language expert about how to appear more out-going; we’ll talk to an author who wrote a book specifically for shy writers, and much more. As soon as I have the specific lineup, I’ll post it so you won’t miss anything.

 Also, over the next few months, my sister (writer Laurie Lunden) and I will be going on field trips that take us outside our comfort zones. Watch for Laurie’s report of our visit to the shooting range. Guns freak me out, so this will be a challenge for me.

 Dealing with our shyness sometimes means stepping outside our comfort zones. I do this every day when I teach group exercise classes at my gym, especially when I teach Zumba®. (Side note: if you haven’t tried Zumba®, you MUST. It’s Latin-inspired aerobic dancing. Try it once and you’ll be hooked, even if you hate to exercise). Even though I’ve been teaching now for several years, I still get an upset stomach before every class. I still have to remind myself to look people in the eye and not stare at the floor as I teach. And my sister (my non-writing, fabulous Zumba®-taking sister, who’s lost 25 lbs just from these classes BTW) has to remind me to smile several times throughout my classes.

I never planned to be a group X teacher. I fell into it when the last gym I worked at was desperate for a sub. I couldn’t sleep for a week before that first class. Even though teaching had been a long-time dream of mine, I never had the courage to actually pursue it because I hate being in the spotlight, hate being center stage, hate being center of attention. But somehow, I made it through that class without puking or passing out, and now I teach six classes a week. But I’m always nervous beforehand and I always have to give myself a little peptalk before stepping in front of my students.

Here’s my question for you, my dearest introvert friends (If you’re not a natural introvert, that’s okay. Nobody’s perfect, and you’re still welcome here), what have you done in your personal or writing life that took you out of your comfort zone, OR what are you trying to build up the courage to do?

NEXT WEEK'S GUEST: Julia Hunter, a federal agent, shares body language tips to make you appear more self confident. Saturday, Sept 26.