In part one of our how to become a master communicator series, I am sharing some insights into non-verbal communication. These insights will help you to improve your communication – whether you are leading your team, presenting or for any communication moment where you need to share your message.

One of the best lessons to learn is that everything communicates.

Communication is not just the words we say but how we say them. It is how we listen and interact with each other, and what our bodies say before we have even had a chance to open our mouths.

Here are 5 non-verbal communication insights to help you engage a room, present or share your idea or story with certainty – all while making an impact with your audience.

1. What your body is saying

Fidgeting, tapping fingers or feet, rubbing our faces or heads, are all non-verbal cues that communicate anxiety, frustration, or a general sense of discomfort.
So how do you overcome nerves and prevent fidgeting?

Release the energy! Rid your body of nervous energy before you speak. Jumping up and down, for example, releases nervous energy and increases positive energy and blood flow to the brain.

2. Stature is everything

Standing up and ‘planting’ – this is the action of solidly planting your feet, hip width apart, standing tall and feeling the strength that gives your body. If you must sit, sit on the edge of your chair with your feet planted on the ground. This forces you to sit up straight and reduces fidgeting.

Pro tip: Avoid chairs with wheels if you can, as the tendency is to sway or roll with the chair.

3. Hands can tell a story of their own

If you like to use your hands when you talk, that’s okay, just make sure your gestures match your message. Your hands can be an asset in non-verbal communication, you can use them to still an audience, or hold a pause in a conversation or negotiation by suspending your hand in the air with your palm turned towards you. This signals you have more to say and makes your pause purposeful.

4. Eyes are key

Holding a steady gaze and making eye contact is important, but don’t be afraid to break eye contact – when you reconnect, it can give extra emphasis or power to your point. When on stage, before speaking, move your gaze slowly across the crowd to settle your audience so they are calm and ready to listen.

5. Breathing is your foundation

This is how people ‘hear’ your voice. Your audience, no matter how big or small, will observe (consciously or sub consciously) your breathing. When we are calm and relaxed our breathing is low and is less visible. When we are nervous, anxious, or agitated our breathing is high and fast, and our chest visibly moves quickly.

So how can you make sure your breathing is under control? Take at least two deep breaths. Breathe in through the nose and release slowly out of the mouth. Repeat.

Mastering your breath means even when the stakes are high, you can communicate with certainty.

Next week in Part 2 of the master communicator series: 5 verbal communication insights to build your skills as a master communicator.