With so many executives taking part in “thought leadership” videos, this article from The Wall Street Journal is relevant to those who’s appearances will be recorded. Video lasts forever!
For better or worse, C-suite leaders are always on display. And whether in a one-on-one meeting or speaking to a crowd of thousands, they are sending nonverbal messages that shape employees’ opinions of whether they are authentic and credible.
New research shows that striking the right balance of power and authority with warmth and empathy is essential. If executives’ body language conveys too many power signals, they appear aloof. But too much warmth can prevent them from setting themselves apart and commanding the attention of others.
Here are some of the most important cues:
Head straight. When speaking to crowds large or small, a leader should hold his or her head straight and avoid tilting it or cocking it to either side, says Carol Kinsey Goman, an executive coach and author of the book “The Silent Language of Leaders.” The head can be tilted slightly back, but not too much; otherwise, the person may come across as arrogant.
Growing smile. Smiles should be used sparingly because too much smiling makes one seem weak. The most effective smile is one that starts small but grows when a person walks into a room or walks across a stage, Ms. Goman says.
Eye contact. There is a “Goldilocks effect” with eye contact, Ms. Goman says. Too little eye contact can make one seem deceptive, but too much eye contact can turn into a “stalker stare.” Ms. Goman advises focusing in the triangle formed by the eyes and forehead. Looking anywhere below the eyes can come across as inappropriate rather than businesslike.
Making a point. When pointing, leaders should point with their whole hand rather than just their index finger, says Joe Navarro, a former FBI agent and author of the book “What Every Body is Saying.” Studies with mock jurors found that pointing with just an index finger made the person seem overly aggressive and made the jurors uncomfortable.
Pacifying gestures. People often touch their neck, pull on their shirt collar or lift their hair when they are anxious and have nervous energy to burn, Mr. Navarro says. Leaders should avoid these behaviors because employees expect calm and control and are rattled if they detect anxiety. Leaders should also look for these cues in employees as it may mean they need to re-establish comfort in order to facilitate collaboration.
Steepling. Whether sitting or standing, “steepling” with your hands conveys quickly to an audience that you are confident, says Mr. Navarro, who studied steepling with mock jurors.
On the move. Leaders shouldn’t hide behind a lectern, but rather should move around on stage when speaking, to convey energy and engage audiences, says Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor and author of the book “Presence.” Walking, pausing and then walking again works best, she says; too much movement can seem erratic.
Power of the pause. Speaking slowly and pausing makes leaders seem more authoritative. The faster you talk, the less authoritative you appear to your audience, Ms. Cuddy says.
The original post can be seen here.