I had a very interesting meeting this morning, listening to people give a one-minute intro about themselves and their businesses.
As a communication expert, I frequently find that what people intend to say is buried or submerged beneath layers of uncertainty and physical or emotional discomfort. A terrible disconnect occurs when our words are not supported by our faces and our voices and our message is not mirrored in our bodies. When this occurs, the message and the medium become separated. If our message isn’t unified, coherent, and compelling people become confused or lose interest. They tend to doubt or question or may reject what you’re saying outright. We know how precious little time we have to make a genuine connection and fan the flames of their desires.
I had a chance to work with some of the people mentioned above, but only a short time. During our time together they learned some techniques to connect their words and gestures. The meaning of words and our interpretation of them is what drives our gestures.
Speaking without gestures on the one hand can be powerful if your facial expressions are animated, full of life and enthusiastic. This applies when one is recording a video in a close up where we don’t see the hands or the whole body.
On the other hand, speaking with your whole body will always increase success, even if you are in close up. Your body’s connection to the words will radiate and amplify your speech.
Not gesturing usually means that tension is in control and the only way to get through the moment is for one to hold their hands in the front of the body in the “fig leaf position” or hide them in their pockets. This is a weak position. It communicates fear or inauthenticity and detracts from your power
What about the words you speak? Words have meaning and it’s up to you to bring their meaning to life. Let’s start with the word “happy.” Let’s use it in a sentence – “I am Happy.” As you think about the word, does it generate a feeling inside? You can use that feeling to support your sentence. Also, what makes you happy? You can use that as well. Now try standing in front of a mirror and saying the sentence. Look closely at yourself. Did you believe the words, were you happy? Did you gesture? Yes? Did the gesture complete the word? You must get to a point where you are happy with the person in the mirror. How do you do that, you might ask? Practice. And getting out of your own way.
What does getting out of your own way mean? Stop judging yourself and trust it instead.
I give you permission to just “act out” the word. Arbitrarily, say it – “Happy! I’m happy!” Say it to that person in the mirror. Make eye contact with yourself. Was it better? Was it uncomfortable? Probably, but that’s because it’s new.
Try another word. Say – “I am strong.” Say it to the mirror. Did you believe yourself? Did you gesture the word “strong?”
This can be the beginning of a new way to express yourself, but it takes commitment and lack of judgment. Be kind and…
Listen to your body when you speak.