Effective leaders understand that communication isn’t just about what they say. It’s also about how they say it. This is in part because of nonverbal communication skills. The way a speaker moves, gestures and carries him or herself can make a big impression on their audience. Knowing how to communicate nonverbally ensures that a speaker is enhancing their message rather than detracting from it.
Nonverbal communication is no joke. Anyone who needs to secure funding should be aware that nonverbal communication can make or break a pitch. MIT research has shown that the success of venture capital pitches can be predicted just by tracking gestures. That means that what the speaker is saying may actually be taking a back seat to how it’s being said. At the very least, nonverbal communication represents a chance for speakers to successfully drive a point home.
Mindfulness can play a big part in displaying effective nonverbal communication. Mindfulness is commonly associated with meditation. However, mindfulness is bigger than that. It’s a way of interacting with the world. Mindfulness means focusing on the moment as it’s happening. Mindful eating, for example, has been proposed as one solution for the obesity epidemic. Taking time to experience a meal, the theory goes, will result in less binging on convenience foods.
Mindfulness means uniting the mind with the body. Letting the body lead when it comes to public speaking is not a bad idea. Once familiar with a speech, there’s nothing wrong with the speaker letting physical cues and body motions take over. For example, eye contact and firm hand gestures can be great ideas when speaking publicly. Having an open stance is important, too.
What audiences want from a speaker is to like them. They want to see a confident person, in command of the material, who feels comfortable speaking to them. They want a reassuring presence. Public speakers who remember this, and meet the audience at least halfway, tend to be fairly successful. It’s important to see nonverbal communication as an opportunity, not a drawback. Understanding the role of nonverbal communication means that speakers have another arrow in their quiver. By speaking mindfully and integrating the mind and body, they can connect more deeply with their message and with the audience.