In 1967, two UCLA professors concluded that communication is 93% nonverbal in the Journal of Consulting Psychology. They studied the relative importance of words, tone, and body language, concluding that the message contributes 7%, tone contributes 38%, and body language contributes the remaining 55% of communication. Now that you know the importance of nonverbal communication, you can practice improving your ability to communicate not just verbally, but nonverbally as well for your interviews and in everyday situations. Below, I have detailed a few aspects of tone and body language that you can pay attention to.
Having strong eye contact shows confidence, which is extremely important during the interview. However, too much contact can come across as creepy or weird. The key is to strike a balance between establishing eye contact and looking away at the right moments. For an interview, I recommend showing stronger eye contact than you normally would in a social situation. Specifically, I suggest going with approximately 80%-85% eye contact while briefly glancing away.
Most of you already know this, but a firm handshake is important to make a strong initial impression. On the other hand, a limp handshake will show a lack of confidence, drive, and ambition.
I believe that it is beneficial to show an approving nod when listening, even if you don’t fully understand what the other person is saying. It shows that you are engaged and taking the other person in. However, be careful not to nod excessively since you may come across as weak, insecure, nervous, or lacking a strong backbone.
Obviously, if you come into an interview looking depressed, you’ll most likely get dinged. So, remember to smile on occasion. Not only will you feel better, your interviewer will feel better as well. Just don’t overdo the smiling or your interviewer may interpret you as lacking seriousness for the position.
I recommend facing your interviewer with uncrossed arms when you are speaking to her. This position shows that you are engaged and receptive to new information. If your arms are crossed, you may come across as closed off with unresolved issues.
If you are receiving advice or feedback from your interviewer, I suggest that you have your palms open on the table. The palms open position emphasizes that you are receptive and open to taking in new information.
If your feet are moving rapidly during an interview, it may signal that you want to get out of there or are nervous. If your feet are crossed, it may mean that you are at ease. Therefore, be conscious of your body in general, and your feet specifically to be aware of the message you are inadvertently sending.
Good posture is not only important for your everyday life, it is important for your interview since it signals confidence and good physical health. Be sure to sit up straight.
Don’t make the mistake of not dressing appropriately to your interview. In general, dress formally and conservatively. If you are not sure what is appropriate, err on the side of conservative.
Even before you say a word, your interviewer would have picked up cues and initial impressions. A strong, confident gait will come across much more favorably than a nervous one.
Pay attention to your tone and project your voice appropriately. In a phone interview, I recommend standing up to allow you to better project your voice. Also, when nervous, many people have a tendency to intonate their voice as if they’re asking a question even when they are making a statement. As a result, this may come across as being unsure of yourself. One way to fix this issue is to be highly aware of your emotions and the way you speak, then to adjust your tone accordingly.
In the craft of acting, actors are trained to play objectives when they perform lines. For example, the line “How’s it going” can be used to flirt, to relate, to ignore, or to intimidate, depending on the context and what objective the actor is trying to accomplish. In an interview, you can play your objective to inform or to educate your interviewer in order to change your intonation from questioning to educating. As a result, your message will come across with much higher confidence.
Always use a clear, confident voice at a moderate pace. If you are naturally a fast talk, be conscious of your talking speed and try to slow it down a bit. Try to be cool and confident during your interview. If you speak too quickly or quietly, your interviewer will have trouble understanding you. If you speak too intensely, you may come across as overwhelming and over-the-top. Speak with passion, interest, and confidence.
One way to practice is to record yourself. Maybe pull up a script or a poem and read over it. If you feel that you need a lot of training to get a strong voice, consider taking voice acting lessons.
Obviously, very few people have perfect body language and nonverbal communication 100% of the time, and that’s okay. No one is perfect and you are probably not a professional actor/speaker. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to perfect your own body language. From this day forward, I recommend being conscious of the way your body acts and how your voice comes across when you are speaking to other people. I also recommend recording yourself or practicing an interview in front of the mirror. Improving your body language is more of a long-term process than a quick fix. It takes hours and hours of practice before one becomes very good. In fact, professional actors put in hundreds of hours of training before they become adept at manipulating their body language and tone. Don’t feel discouraged if it takes a while before you notice your old habits start changing.
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