Giving Yourself The Edge – Part 2: Body LanguagePosted: 30th of December 2015 by
Yesterday we spoke about how you can begin to overcome any psychological barriers to getting your voice heard and standing out in meetings or classes. Getting your voice heard and being confident enough to speak up takes practice, especially if you are new to a course, career, or apprenticeship. You may feel nervous going into an unusual or new situation and speaking out in front of people you barely know. Some find it easy while others need a little practice in speaking up and being heard, The benefits of doing so are that you can take credit for your own good ideas rather than letting others steal them, while also showing that you are an important part of the group or team. As you practice your newfound outspoken personality you may still feel nervous, but paying attention to your body language can cover those nerves and allow you to appear confident – even if you don’t quite feel it!
- Check your posture
Make sure you pay attention to your posture when speaking out.. Hiding behind your books or papers or speaking down into your chest will not offer the best impression, and may even lead others to brush over your comments as unimportant. Not to mention making it harder for you to be heard and understood clearly. Sit up straight, raise your head, and at least try to appear self-assured. You may not feel it, but try to act confident, as if you are playing a part in a film. Giving the impression of confidence can lead to genuine confidence with practice, and your body language is an important part of this.
- Know Your Nerves
Do you know how you react when you are nervous or feel under pressure? Some people may tremble when speaking to an audience, while others may feel themselves perspiring a little. Knowing how your body reacts to nerve-wracking situations can help you to counter them. If you are prone to trembling put your notes down so that they don’t draw attention to your shaking hands, and make sure you feel comfortable too. After a while you will become accustomed to how your body may react when nervousness kicks in, and you can start to expect it like an old friend! Being kind to yourself will make it easier to put your nerves aside – or at least accept them as part of who you are!
- Check Your Voice
Your voice is another part of your physicality, so make sure to check your delivery when speaking up. Speak clearly and be careful if you are prone to speeding up or letting your voice rise when nervous. Speak slowly and try to keep your voice calm and level. This is particularly true for females, whose softer toned voices can easily get lost in a room full of shouting men!
Breathing deeply and slowly will help to reduce any nerves while also helping to maintain a calm sounding voice. Taking a few breaths before you go into a meeting or class where you know you may have to speak up can settle those nerves before you even get going. You might also want to tell yourself that everything is going to be fine – rather than dwelling on any potential mistakes or failings.
- Eye Contact
Make eye-contact with the people you are speaking to. Don’t stare – that’s just weird - but let your gaze meet that of others so they know you are addressing them. Looking up will also help you maintain the attention of those you are speaking to and stop your words getting lost or passed over.
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