During a trade show your body language can talk louder than you. You have roughly a 15 second window of being out of earshot by approaching potential clients. So, before they can hear you, what can you say to them with your body language?
Body language is your facial expressions, your eye contact, your hand gestures, your posture, your tone and touch. These are the “wordless signals that speak volumes,” says Darlene Price, executive speech coach and author of 'Well Said'. She estimates nonverbal communication can carry 65 percent to 93 percent more impact than your actual spoken words. Remember, people need to trust you before they do business with you, so avoid off-putting body language. Here is how:
Avoid putting more weight on one foot than the other, this will cause you to appear imbalanced. Instead, stand with your weight evenly distributed on each foot. You’ll look anchored, stable, in charge and in control.
Avoid awkward 'Velcro arms', this is when your upper arms are attached tightly to your torso, making you seem smaller and more closed off. People will be able to see you tying to shrink yourself and avoid contact, and will in turn avoid you. Instead create low, broad movements that are more demonstrative and confident looking. Don’t be scared to create more space for yourself, don’t try and smaller yourself through arm gestures. Be sure to also avoid clenching your hands, it communicates nerves and tension.
Making eye contact is essential for establishing yourself when attending a trade show, or any professional setting for that matter. Eye contact communicates confidence and engagement. When speaking to a small audience, you want to sustain eye contact for at least two seconds with each person “It says you’re credible, you’re worthy of their attention and sincere with what you’re saying,” says Price. The problem is when eye contact is shorter—or longer—than that. That shows weakness. More than five seconds, on the other hand, turns into intimidation or intimacy—neither of which is appropriate in a business setting.
Always initiate the handshake. Make sure your hands are dry and clean, and when offering the person your hand, look into their eyes and smile, this conveys confidence. Ensure the actual handshake is firm and confident, yet not so firm that you crush the other person's hand.
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