We all know body language is a powerful tool for communicating. When you stand and present, you have many elements at your disposal – your posture, movement, gestures. But what about when you’re seated?
People often ask how they can use deliberate body language while seated. They want to contribute to meetings with presence and conviction yet feel limited by the seated position and struggle to 'own the space’ when trapped in a chair, behind a boardroom table, with colleagues crowded around.
You may have these limitations; but still, those around you are sizing you up. So behaving consciously is as important in the chair as it is in any other business setting.
Here are some behaviours you can adopt to project your professional presence when seated.
1. Sit far back
By sitting as far back as possible on your seat, you will use the back of the chair to keep your spine straight. The assertive posture conveys confidence.
2. Use the chair arms
Rest your arms on the chair arms. This forces your shoulders to open up – the classic ‘open posture’ from body language 101. This wider stance signals to people that you ‘own the space’.
Gestures are a core element of the body language portfolio. Senior leaders use them deliberately to add punctuation to their statements. Choose a few key phrases you want your audience to remember and practice a matching gesture. Your audience can understand the message more clearly when they see your hand gestures match what you have to say – especially when that gesture is repeated each time you use the phrase.
4. Align your shoulders to others
Shoulders are a crucial element. When you hold yours strongly, you send a message of composure. As you speak, pivot purposefully so your shoulders align with the person you’re making eye contact with. You’ll send one congruent message of focus while maintaining your poise.
Approach your seated encounters with the same consciousness you bring to standing presentations, and you’ll send a message of professional presence consistently.