A Guest Post By Jayne Latz M.A., CCC-SLP
Often we think about drafting the perfect speech or controlling the sound of our voice to radiate confidence when we speak – but our habits while we’re speaking – body movements, eye contact, posture, facial expressions – actually have as much if not more effect on how confident we appear to others. This is especially true at trade shows, where noise, crowds, and distractions can tend to interfere with your listener’s ability to hear all of your words. In that situation, your body language and habits become even more important.
Stand up straight!
Your mother may have had etiquette and back health in mind when she instructed you thus, but in a business setting it’s also good advice. Rounded shoulders and slouching can come off as unconfident, overly casual, or even lazy. Whether sitting or standing as you greet and converse with visitors to your booth or table, make an effort to put your shoulders back, raise your chin so that it’s level, and straighten your spine. This posture indicates alertness, energy, and confidence.
Yet more good advice from Mom. Shifting your weight from foot to foot or fidgeting with your hands can communicate an air of boredom, impatience, or lack of professionalism. Stand with your feet approximately shoulder width apart and distribute your weight evenly. Not only does this make you seem attentive and relaxed, it’s also quite comfortable. The extra benefit during a trade show is that while you come across as relaxed and confident, you’ll also be helping to conserve your energy, making you more able to keep up a positive and energetic demeanor for the duration of your time on the trade show floor.
This issue can be tricky. Too little eye contact can make you seem untrustworthy or unconfident, but too much can make you seem aggressive.
Attention to this becomes extra important in a trade show as you may be working against a good deal of noise and crowding to keep your visitor engaged. The temptation is to follow your visitor’s eyes if he shifts his gaze to something else going on nearby – or to talk faster or lean in too close to try to keep your connection going.
Do your best to maintain the same amount of eye contact as in any other conversational situation. In other words, try to to mentally block out what’s going on around you – in a relaxed, normal manner. Your unflustered, unrushed, and focused attention to your visitor will keep him comfortably engaged. A good rule of thumb is to maintain eye contact during the interaction, but look away briefly every five seconds or so. This way you seem attentive and focused, but also relaxed and friendly.
About Jayne Latz
Jayne Latz M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech and communication specialist, author, and professional speaker, and principal of Corporate Speech Solutions (http:// www.corporatespeechsolutions.com) in New York City. She has trained individual clients from all over the world in public speaking, accent reduction, and best communication practices, and has provided training, lectures and/or workshops at RSM McGladrey, Ernst and Young, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, The Carlyle Group, Harry Winston, Morgan Stanley and Mount Sinai Medical Center, to name just a few. Jayne Latz is a featured speaker of the New York State Society for CPA’s (NYSSCPA.org).