Body language advice comes down to one simple motto.
Seeing is believing.
So when a mug-shot of a well below-par Tiger Woods flashes across the world after his arrest, we all rush to judgment.
He fell asleep at the wheel of a parked car in Florida.
Police released footage of a barefoot Tiger unable to walk in a straight line.
It seems an open and shut case for the winner of 14 major golf titles.
Personally, I’m saddened to see a great, if flawed, talent suffer such reputational damage.
But it highlights one thing we discuss in all our public speaking courses, run at our Glasgow studios, around the world – and now virtually.
We all judge people on appearances.
In less extreme circumstances than those facing Tiger, we can make simple adjustments to our body language.
These will make a better impression with our non-verbal communication.
Here’s my top 5:
Number 1: Smile! Our face comes alive when we smile – and it tells our friend/partner/audience we’re happy and in good humour
Number 2: Look at the other person. It shows we’re interested in them.
Number 3: Nod – if you understand or agree with what they’re saying.
Number 4: Use your hands to illustrate your points – as you appear more involved.
Number 5: Uncross your arms when listening – and you’ll look more open to what’s being said.
We have written more extensively on body language here.
I used to enjoy sharing the passion written across Tiger’s face as he played the impossible shot.
The flash of white teeth in his infectious smile as he sank the improbable putt.
It provokes much happier memories than the pictures we’ve seen in recent days.
When we come to make a presentation, we naturally seize up.
We put lots of energy into the following:
An introduction that includes our name and topic (‘for those who don’t know me, I’m John’)
A smooth delivery (also known as ‘not stumbling’)
Formal language, with neat transitions (‘furthermore’…)
A clear ending (‘that’s me, any questions?’)
In short, we’re ignoring the most important aspects.
These are: a slow pace, an appropriate tone and positive body language.
The smile is the most difficult to make look natural under the pressure.
That’s why it needs work and a lot of practice.
A great way to begin that practice is in front of colleagues (rather than the mirror).
And if you want to book a session for your team to do just that, email us.
Bill McFarlan is Executive Chairman of Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.
You can view his full profile here.
Some media trainers knock you down…and leave you down. Our media coaches show you how to deal with each knock…and still win through. So you have the presentation skills to perform – with confidence.