Why Don’t I Believe Them?

Presentation ElementsHere is the scenario! A speaker’s voice has made a presentation to obtain your agreement to a proposal. The proposal could be business or personal. A business proposal could involve any number of matters such as vendor selection, lease agreements, purchase decisions or many other possibilities. But here is the problem. The speaker or presenter has made an excellent presentation that competently explained the pros and cons of the proposal. You are convinced that the presentation was professionally delivered, but you are not persuaded.

Why is that? One possible reason is the speaker’s body language or non-verbal communication. The speaker’s voice contains nonverbal elements known as para-language, including voice quality, rate, pitch, volume and style. Nonverbal communication involves the conscious and unconscious processes of facial expressions, gestures, and postures. As human beings, we attempt to decode and interpret this information based on our previous experience.

Let’s examine some of these non-verbal clues. Here are four (4) possibilities.

  1. Face and eyesPerceptive presenters make frequent eye contact. This tends to convey the feeling or attitude that one is interested in relating to each person with whom the eye contact is made. The lack of eye contact tends to indicate less interest in relating to the person(s) with whom eye contact is made.
  2. Arms and hands – Behavioral experts have concluded that speakers and presenters who spread their arms and use the open hand position tend to be more relaxed and perceptive. Conversely, arms and hands that are clenched, crossed, positioned in front of their mouth, or rubbing the back of their neck tend to connote less receptivity or, in some cases, honesty.
  3. Legs and feetPerceptive speakers and presenters tend to sit with legs together or one leg slightly in front of the other. When standing, they distribute weight evenly and place hands on their hips with their body tilted toward the speaker. Less perceptive or insincere speakers or presenters tend to stand with legs alternating between being crosses and uncrossed.
  4. TorsoReceptive and open speakers or presenters tend to sit on the edge of their chair in a relaxed manner and with their body tilted toward the audience or group. Alternatively, the less perceptive or less than honest speaker or presenter may lean back in their chair and maintain a closed position.

Learning the language of non-verbal communications is equivalent to learning a foreign language. Being able to read the non-verbal communication of another person can significantly aid in the communication process. Being aware of inconsistencies between a person’s verbal and non-verbal communication will also help you to make better decisions.

Related Articles:   When Presenting … pause here, here and here! and   Engage Your Audience … compel them to listen!

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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