We all know that we only have 15 seconds to make a good first impression and that first impressions count. We also know that these impressions come mostly from our body language, our voice and the way we look rather than the content and the words we say.
As we continue presenting, we can shift the impressions of people and our message through our nonverbal communication. Generally, we may be seen as aggressive, passive, assertive, honest, evasive, credible, approachable or trustworthy. As we try to be more persuasive and influential and ask people to follow our way of thinking, then credibility becomes a key trait. So what does credible nonverbal communication look like? Here are 5 strategies for adopting more credible nonverbal communication.
- Stand with your feet wider apart
If you stand with your feet slightly wider than normal, say around the width of your shoulders, that is seen as more credible than standing with your feet together. It is really important to choose a stance that you are comfortable and is reasonably wide. But do be careful. If you got too wide, say wider than your shoulder width, then this can be seen as aggressive. I sometimes see this very wide aggressive stance on mine sites
- Place your palms downward
Palms facing down as you gesture is seen as more credible than palms facing up. Both directions are important with palms up seen as approachable, accommodating, and ready to listen and seek more information. Palms down is seen as credible, sending information, confident in your content and generally indicates that you are in control. In a full presentation you need to be both approachable and credible at various stages.
- Keep your voice steady and calm with a downward inflection at the end
Australians have a tendency to have an upward inflection and higher pitched voice at the end of each sentence. An upward turning intonation. To be more credible, keep your voice more flat and steady and even have a downward inflection at the end of each sentence. A downward turning intonation.
- Limit your blinking
Credibility comes with less blinking and the softer approachability comes with more blinking. At the extreme is the frozen eye or stare that can be seen as aggressive. Just think of two boxing fighters at their pre-fight press conference. They stare at each other and the first person to blink is seen as the looser, so they do the frozen eye. Credibility is less blinking and steady eye contact with your audience.
- Keep your head bobbing to a minimum
Credibility comes from keeping your head steady and your chin on a level plane. Bobbing your head is great for agreeing with someone, when you want to be approachable or accommodating. When you move into your content, your key lessons and you need to be seen as credible, then avoid the bobbing and keep your head steady. Our previous Prime Minister Julie Gillard had lots of head bobbing. This is great for approachability and likeability, but does not serve you as well when you want to send messages, be more persuasive and credible.