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 http://www.julia-hunter.com/.
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!
Next week's guest: 2008 Golden Heart winner and now NAL/Signet Eclipse author, Annette McCleave.