“Someone at work told me I come off badly in meetings! I don’t know what I’m doing wrong or how to fix it, and I don’t want this to negatively impact my job. Help!” — Mike from Austin, TX
Believe it or not, people pay very close attention to body language! How you sit in meetings, your facial expressions, gestures and posture convey powerful messages to other people, so how you say something can be as important as what you say. Long after a meeting, many people will likely forget specific words but remember facial expressions and tone.
To ensure your body language remains positive and mirrors what you are trying to convey, consider the following advice from the Harvard Business Review before stepping into that next meeting:
When did you last eat?
If you are hungry or have another physical discomfort, you will most likely focus on that instead of putting all of your energy into the meeting—and it will show. Make sure you minimize this distraction.
Are you prepared?
If you aren’t properly prepared, you might as well postpone the meeting or own up to it. If you try to wing it, you will inevitably exhibit body language that indicates your situation. If you can’t postpone the meeting, at least stay quiet so as not to draw attention to yourself.
Are you irritated or angry?
If you have issues with someone in the meeting, or are angry, make sure you are aware of these feelings before entering the room so you can keep them under control. If not addressed, your frustration or anger will most likely show. Try to calm down before the meeting and actively avoid irritated tone of voice, crossed arms or purposely sitting farther away from someone.
Also, ask yourself the following questions to make sure you are not unintentionally displaying negative body language. These actions are obvious indicators of disengagement, boredom, irritation and more.
- Is my body tense?
- Are my arms folded in front of me?
- Are my hands on my face?
- Are my arms behind my head?
- Am I fidgeting? Yawning? Impatient?
- Do I look distracted?
- Am I leaning away or avoiding eye contact?
Paying attention to these items is a great start in improving the impression you make in meetings.