Our body parts—our body English—send out messages that are imperceptibly stronger and clearer than our voices. Our body is in fact an eloquent communicator. But we mainly take this granted or we are rather aren’t aware of it.
In everyday communication one’s frame of mind and feelings impact his choice of words and gestures. These are sent by the person and are perceived by the audience in return one way or the other. One’s exterior and interior play out through a number of ways in the process so that the listener can perceive the speaker’s attitude—or intention. This may come in fast or slow depending on particular factors.
Outside of one’s body, certain things join in the communication soup as well. The room, the colour and size of the desk one sits in, the texture of the carpet and the drapes, one’s garments, the background music (if any), the time of day, a whole lot of other objects near and far. All these come into play during the communication engagement, back and forth, with spoken language in the bigger scheme of things, making up barely half of the equation of one thinks about it.
At the business meeting, spoken language is intended to persuade and influence the listener’s decision (a “call to action”). Used in combination with the other elements mentioned above, one’s sentences and pronouncement leave the connotative level and go on up to the functional, rhetorical level where a spade is called a spade—and brings in positive results.
What makes up this magic mix? One’s facial expression, tone of voice, volume, rate of speech, pitch, hand movement, eye contact, and pauses.
How one uses space, posture, body movement contribute as well. These have a subliminal effect on the interlocutor in ways that can make or break opportunities. It’s not that one “acts” when one does this—really job interviews and business presentations are a form of social interaction, a kind of engagement that is bound by norms and conventions. That’s not theatre in the sense that all is a charade.
What body English targets is effective communication: not only a transactional exchange of words and but above all a meaningful and genuine understanding of terms and subject positions. It is a picture of a getting- to-know-each-other phase that leads to a relationship.
So how does one go about this? Certainly not in an orchestrated way that actors do, because this is not done at the theatre. One has just to be natural (meaning not profuse and presumptuous) so as not to distract the interlocutor’s attention. One’s voice set at one’s comfort level (the everyday speech level, and the voice should match the meaning. The interviewer/audience is observing and is ticking off signs of insincerity and what-not as one speaks. Watch out therefore for unnecessary movements, changes in tone, and facial expressions.
On the other hand being stationary throughout the exchange may be deemed unnatural. Being stiff is obviously a sign of anxiety. In many cases this results in stuttering and stop-and-go sentences. What this means is that one’s gestures and composure should sync in seamlessly in order that one may be able to drive in his meaning sharply. This is called emphasis and, when used strategically, leaves nothing to the imagination. It can only lead to one thing: a handshake and congratulations.