“Mabel, Mabel, sweet and able, get your elbows off the table!”
Whether the lesson stuck with you or not, the rhyme’s message is clear: Etiquette and body language are important. And this is especially true in sales.
Any time you’re in a face-to-face meeting with a prospect, your body language is crucial. What you say is just as important as how you say it -- and how you look when you say it. Don’t let these mistakes derail a sales meeting or distract from your message.
Body Language Mistakes
Posture is one of the loudest-speaking attributes in body language. If you’re slouching your back, have your shoulders drooping, and neck limp -- it sends a weak message that will have your audience questioning your professionalism.
2. Drumming your fingers
Maybe it’s a nervous tic or an old habit but drumming your fingers on the table is irritating and makes it seem like you’re impatiently waiting for the end of the meeting.
3. No eye contact
Looking at the clock, looking at your feet, or constantly looking at the screen or your PowerPoint will look dismissive and unprofessional. Instead, make contact with everyone for a few brief seconds when making a point.
You can make it short, but don’t be too quick -- stay sincere when making it. Quickly nodding your head in assurance will send the message you’re personally interested in what your audience is concerned about.
4. Too much eye contact
On the other hand, you don’t want to freak your prospects out. And staring at them for the entire duration of your meeting is a sure way to do so.
5. Not facing your prospect
While your prospect might have your full attention, they don’t know that if you’re facing the wall or not looking at them.
Similarly, pacing back and forth or moving your arms and legs quickly will give off a quirky vibe that doesn’t fare well when attempting to present convincing information. Instead, navigate the room with slow confidence.
It’s important not to stay in one place -- or not facing your prospect for huge chunks of time. Move throughout the front -- or even the entire crowd -- and ensure you’re sending a positive message.
6. Watching the clock
Another big no-no. Checking the clock or your watch repeatedly during a meeting sends a signal to your prospect loud and clear: You have somewhere better to be.
7. Checking your phone or email
If you’re checking your devices during a meeting, there’s no way you can stay focused -- multitasking doesn’t work. And don’t think for a second your prospect won’t notice you furtively checking your texts.
8. Rubbing hands
Clasping your hands, rubbing them together, or fidgeting with them shows nervousness, and may give the audience the sense you’re uncomfortable or don’t believe in what you’re saying.
Instead, keep your arms to your side, in an open manner. Use your hands to convey what your mouth is saying through calculated, concise movement.
9. Crossing your arms
Crossing your arms might give the impression you’re unimpressed by something, or that something’s amiss. It’s a defensive posture that will put a distance between you and your audience.
Keep your arms open and away from your body -- like you’re thinking about giving a big bear hug. This open gesture is inviting and warm, it will give a sense of peace and confidence to the audience.
10. Adjusting your legs
Your legs are the furthest point from your brain, so they’re sometimes the hardest to control while presenting. Fidgeting your legs and constantly readjusting your standing position gives the audience the feeling you’re uncomfortable and restless.
Stand confidently and make calculated and controlled movements toward audience members. Make everyone think you’ve practiced these movements before -- and make them believe you’re a seasoned veteran with where you move while presenting.
Body language is essential to a good presentation and deserves to be practiced. Don’t be too careful or careless. You want to look natural.
Approach the situation as a friend who’s sharing information, rather than a lecturer surrounded by a student body. Remember these tips next time you present and see how your audience reacts.
Originally published May 20, 2018 11:42:00 AM, updated July 28 2017