When you are communicating with others, your message is received and understood through the words you use, your tone (emphasis, pauses, inflection) and your body language (facial expressions, posture, gestures).
Research into what percentage of the message is understood through each shows that when words are not congruent with our voice and our body language then the message is received in the following percentages:
BODY LANGUAGE 55%
To be an effective presenter you need to be able to use body language which matches the words you are using, for example if you are trying to motivate others you need to look enthusiastic yourself, and you voice has to be congruent too.
Our body language is either negative or positive. Positive is any body language which has a positive effect on the person seeing it. And negative is any body language that has a negative effect. There are two types of negative body language: passive and aggressive.
Negative - Passive
This shows shyness, a lack of self-confidence, hesitation, withdrawal or fear.
You may see that the head is down and the eyes are down. The person is looking away or avoiding eye contact. There is a worried or unsure look about the face with furrowed brow or questioning unsure look. The shoulders are bowed. The hands and arms are either folded protectively in front of the person, or maybe both hands are jammed in pockets or often a hand goes to the face, sometimes covering the mouth or rubbing the back of the neck, or often the person gazes at the backs of fingernails or fidgets with pens. The person is off-balance and sometimes nervously shifts his or her weight first from one foot to the other.
Negative - Aggressive
The person appears superior, attacking, over defensive, or over-confident.
The head is up, chin is up, head sometimes tilted at an angle. The eyes are either narrowed in calculating anger or are wide open, flashing with rage. The lips are pressed together, teeth sometimes clenched, jaw muscles flexing. There can be a tense look with a furrowed brow.
The face looks angry or superior. Hands and arms are either in a closed position or both hands or fists are on the hips in a defiant position. In a closed position the arms are folded defiantly across the body, higher across the chest than in the passive body posture. The feet are often placed with one foot stepping forward or standing in a fairly wide stance.
The person appears open, approachable, natural, self-confident and self-assured.
The head is up but not as high up as in aggressive body language. Eyes tend to be at eye level with the other person, the face is relaxed, with very slight smile or with a pleasant expression. Hands and arms are comfortably by the person's side, or clasping the hands low in the front of the body or low behind the person's back. Feet are about a shoulder width apart, weight equally distributed on both feet.
Four Styles of Communication
When your words are positive and your body language is positive you send a powerful, clear and direct message (effective/direct). It is a congruent communication.
If your words are positive but your body language is negative you send a confused message. We call this ineffective/contradictory. Our words are saying one thing but our bodies are saying another. This often occurs when someone is giving a formal presentation. They are saying positive, dynamic things, but their message is not received because nerves are making them look negative.
To ensure that you are communicating clearly and creating the right impact, make sure your body language matches what you are saying.
Want to improve the communication in your team? Get in touch with us today for more information on how to get the results you are looking for.
Denise Campbell, Learning Professional
Passionate about working with leaders and managers who want to contribute significantly in their own area of work and inspire those they work with to deliver the goals they are collectively responsible for.
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