An effective project manager needs more than just technical knowledge; creating the right impression is critical. Here we look at how you can use body language to help you. While this is not something that is covered in all project management courses, it could really help you succeed. Here, you can find our tips on how to create the right impression with your body language.

An assertive posture

From the moment you enter the room, you need to project an image that will instill confidence in those you are going to address.  Enter the room and stand confidently; keep your feet a few inches apart and aligned with your shoulders. Keep your back straight, your shoulders slightly back, and stand firm, distributing your weight evenly between both feet.  Turn your body towards those you are engaging with. If you show interest and engagement with your audience, they will show interest and actively listen. By adopting the assertive posture mentioned, you portray a confident image, one that believes in what they say.

The opposite of the posture mentioned above would be a person who enters a room with hunched shoulders, a wobbly stance, and turns or looks away from those they are to address. They show nervousness, disinterest, and a lack of confidence in their ability.  As well as this, a submissive position of crossed legs, hands folded, and leaning more to one side, will show a lack of belief in yourself and what you’re saying. Use the power of your posture to reinforce your verbal message and get yourself noticed for the right reasons.

Maintain eye contact

Struggling to maintain eye contact or continually looking away will portray an uneasiness, or that you feel a lower status or submissive to the people you are engaging with. Project management training may help you to be more confident in what you’re trying to get across, but you can reinforce your message and engage with your audience by maintaining eye contact, look open and confident, show them you are approachable, honest, inspiring and trustworthy.

Take a look at your face

Spend some time learning what message your standard face portrays.  If you have a naturally stern face and find that people often think you are upset or angry, it could be because when you are concentrating, you furrow your brow or turn down your mouth.  Relax your facial muscles, make an effort to smile, and make your appearance friendly and open. You don’t want people to avoid you or get the impression that you are unapproachable or grumpy just because you have the ‘wrong look’ on your face. The good news, though, is that you can train your face.

Gestures

Do you find that you often point when you want to reinforce a message? Did you know that this can often be seen as intimidating to others and sometimes even aggressive?  If you are looking to create a good impression, engage others, and appear trustworthy and co-operative, then use an open hand gesture with your palm facing up and fingers together when ‘pointing’.  A simple change can make a big difference in how people feel.

Don’t fidget

Whether you are sitting or standing, fidgeting often portrays a lack of confidence and nervousness, which is the exact opposite of the image you need to portray. Excessive movements will also distract those listening to you. If they are always watching your hands and body more than listening to your message, key points will likely be missed.

Mirror body language

This is probably one of the hardest to get right. It’s all about timing, knowing when to mirror someone’s posture, and, as importantly, when not to.  Consider sitting in a similar way to the listener, smiling or moving as they do, but make sure that it is done naturally and relaxed; do not merely copy-cat every move.

In summary, you need to think as much about your movements and mannerisms as your message if you want to be successful.