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5 powerful body language tips

Exude confidence and feel more authoritative by adopting these habits of leaders.

#1 Use ‘power posing’
Our body language has a significant impact on the way people think about us. Strong leaders almost always use their body language to convey strength and self-confidence through an open, outstretched posture. So strike a powerful pose, stand with legs a little apart, hands on hips or making wide gestures with your hands or lean in and rest your palms on the table in front of you (like Kevin Spacey in the picture above). When sitting down, try steepling (bring your hands near your face or chest and press the tips of the fingers together). These postures/gestures exude self-assuredness. You can use them to boost your own self-confidence and send signals to others in the audience that you are in control and have the power to act.

#2 Place your hands behind your back
You often see politicians, police chiefs and even principals adopting this posture as it displays supreme confidence. In this posture they put their hands behind their back and hold one wrist. This exposes their most vulnerable areas of the body (chest and groin areas), sending a message to the audience that they are so confident that even exposing this vulnerability doesn’t faze them.

#3 Use movement and pauses to highlight points
When making a presentation it’s a good idea to switch up between moving and standing still. People are drawn to movement, so if you speak when you’re moving you’ll grab attention. Walk towards your audience when making a point (to seem like you’re reaching out) and move away when you want to move to the next point (to signify a break). If your talk has two major points, make them from two different physical spaces or spots. But always stand still when you’re making your most crucial points as a way to highlight that it is important (by pausing your body language conveys that this is something that they should stop and notice).

#4 Maintain strong eye contact
This holds true for one-on-one interactions as well as in group situations. Strong leaders continuously make eye contact with their audience when speaking. This provides a connection, literally and figuratively, and builds a bridge between the speaker and the listener. People who look away or past people while talking are considered insincere, dishonest or nervous. While those who maintain eye contact are considered trustworthy and grounded.

#5 Do deep breathing to deepen your voice
Right before an important meeting, take a few deep breaths, all the way from your belly. Exhale through your mouth and a make a soft sound while doing so (like ‘aah’). This relaxes the tension in your throat, which usually tightens up in stressful situations and raises the pitch of your voice. A deeper voice sounds more authoritative, so it’s a good idea to keep your voice down. This exercise also releases the tension in your neck, jaw and shoulders, which if present tend to give you an aggressive look. Taking these deep breaths also gives you a chance to gather your thoughts and centre your mind. 

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