The Hand Talks

Body language matters. Reading and giving off the right signals in new business meetings

by The Hand

When you’re pitching for new business it’s often too easy to put the entire focus on ‘what’ you say, rather than how you come across.

It’s really easy to forget that so much of all communication is non-verbal and that it’s the things that you don’t say that can often convey the most information. The way you present yourself in a new business meeting is so important and so it’s worth thinking about how body language can set the tone of both that meeting but also of a future relationship.

In fact, in every interaction with a potential client you want your own body language to project confidence, show you’re an excellent active listener, that you’re interested in their business and empathetic towards the challenges they are facing, and that you can be assertive when necessary.

All those signals can all be amplified by using your body language as a secret weapon. Here are the elements to be mindful of:

  1. Pay attention to eye contact. This is one of the best ways to connect with people. Make sure you maintain eye contact to show respect and that you are listening to what they’re saying. Also be mindful of their eye contact- if they’re not focused on you or they’re busy looking at something else then it could be a sign that you‘re talking too much or they’re not engaged in what you’re saying. Try and bring them back to the conversation as best you can.
  2. Keep an open posture and a confident stance. Even if you’re nervous, ensuring you sit/stand tall with your shoulders back will help you feel more grounded and project confidence.
  3. Be aware of your own facial expressions. If you’re naturally quite an expressive person, just be mindful of eyebrow raises and eye rolls.
  4. Mirror their body language. It’s a well-known sales-technique to mirror their posture, gestures, seating position, even tone or inflection. Often, we do this quite naturally and it really helps to show you empathise with the person.
  5. Show you’re listening by nodding. Using a nod or some active listening sounds can be really reassuring and encouraging, and helps people feel they are being listened to. Show you are fully present and don’t be that agency person who fiddles with their phone during a meeting.
  6. Shake hands. It’s an oldie but a goodie. A handshake shows your first sign of interest in the person. You should maintain eye contact and your shake should feel warm and sincere. Adding in a ‘it’s great to meet you’ before you let go shows sincerity and will make a really good first impression.
  7. Smile. Don’t forget this one! Smiling can be so powerful as it shows you are genuinely engaged and interested.

Of course the content of your new business or pitch meeting is hugely important. But how you deliver it is just as important and can really help to seal the deal. Gain the trust of those in the meeting through good, clear body language and you’ll create a memorable impression.