How many times have you found yourself listening to someone and not hearing what they are saying because of something they are doing at that moment? You know that type of person. She may be the one who paces relentlessly back and forth during a presentation. She could be the one who emphasizes every word she is saying by chopping one hand into the palm of her other hand. No matter what form her non-verbal communication is taking, you may catch yourself thinking “your body language speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.”
It is extremely easy to fall into some of the same habits exemplified by this sort of speaker. When you are speaking to someone or to groups of people they will typically pay as much attention to what you are doing as to what you are saying. Take politicians for example; if you have ever seen one constantly pounding on a podium to make their point, the odds are that you will remember that they are very emphatic, but you may not remember their message at all.
Body language, or kinesics, can be just as important if not more so when speaking to individuals in a one on one manner. While you may be trying to act interested in what is being said, your body language may quickly give away the fact that you are extremely disinterested in the conversation.
Keeping your body language in mind is very important when you are speaking – or listening – to others. By incorporating the use of proper body language when speaking with others you will find that getting your message across is much easier. Techniques like keeping direct eye contact, mirroring expressions, nodding when and where appropriate and more are all great tools to let your listeners know that you are interested in what they are getting out of your talk. They are also great for letting a speaker know that you are actively interested in what they are saying.
In the end, body language can speak just as loudly if not more so than verbal means of communication. That being said, if you find yourself slipping into bad habits you might just have someone say to you, “Your body language speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying!”