Non-Verbal Signs: Make or Break!

2 02 2010

The New Venture Championship (NVC) presents young innovators from across the country with the chance to not only win up to $50,000, but to make an impression on business leaders in the Portland area.

Practicing effective non-verbal communication can set a young professional ahead of his or her peers.

Successful business people know the power of first impressions. In fact, psychologists have approximated that someone has less than 17 seconds in an interaction with a stranger before an opinion is formed. And according to the Journal of Business Communication, 93 percent of first impressions are determined by non-verbal communication.

Simply put: Non-verbal signs can make or break one’s first impression. Approaching a networking opportunity with such notoriety, it is important for NVC participants to be in tune to the following signals and to understand the significance of non-verbal communication.

Keep these signals in mind when you have your 17-second shot:

1. Body movement: ==> Sit up straight and stand tall with your shoulders back ==> Hold your head high and keep your chip up ==> Avoid distracting, nervous habits, such as biting nails or playing with your hair.

2. Gestures: ==> The way you wave or shake someone’s hand matters; make sure your handshake is firm and says something about who you are? ==> Be careful about how you animate your speech via gestures; you don’t want to seem too passive or too aggressive. ==> Gestures have different meanings across cultures. Ensure avoiding misinterpretation by respecting and understanding one’s cultural norms.

3. Eye contact ==> Eye contact can maintain or distract from the flow of a conversation. It is important to pay attention to eye contact, in terms of gauging responses. ==> Be an active listener. Eye contact is the best way to show someone that you are engaged.

4. Space ==> Your proximity to someone during a conversation and your stance are also significant. You don’t want to stand too close or too far to someone because it can seem either overbearing or apathetic. ==> You can use physical space to communicate many different nonverbal messages, including intimacy, aggression, dominance, or affection. How will you fill your space?

5. Voice ==> Our tone of voice is almost more significant than words in a first impression. Your tone, pitch, volume, inflection, rhythm and rate are saying something too!

Make sure to keep this in mind when you are networking because you never know where each connection will lead.

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