When you think about ‘properly using’ your body language, what comes to mind?
Is it speaking with your hands? Introducing yourself with a strong handshake? Maintaining eye contact or smiling? What about your posture or the way you move?
When answering the question, ‘How to effectively use your body language?’, where exactly should we start?
The reality is that body language often refers to the shared, non-verbal cues that exist between human beings. We often think of gestures, posture, eye contact and facial expressions, but there are other elements as well.
Things like proxemics (closeness or personal space), paralanguage (the pitch, tone and speed of speech) and our many subconscious physiological changes (think blinking a lot or sweating when nervous) are also important parts of body language.
There is no question that non-verbal communication is a complex but integral part of our overall communication as a tour guide, but often times we remain totally unaware of our non-verbal behaviour.
So, in the spirit of becoming better tour guides, leaders and performers, let’s bring some mindfulness to how we are using our bodies to communicate.
In this video, we’ll look at six techniques and tactics for how to effectively use your body language, as well as look at a number of common mistakes to avoid. Small things like turning your back to people, fidgeting, looking over shoulders, pacing or hunching your body may all be sending messages that you don’t intend to.
Because this is such a large and important topic, we also created a bonus resource for those who want to take their body language skills to the next level.
We went out and researched the web for the best body language experts we could find and put together five of our favourite video lessons. We hear from Vanessa Van Edwards and the Science of People, Allan Pease in his inspirational TED talk on body language and other tips from the Stanford School of Business.
These short instructional clips each tackle a unique element of our non-verbal communication and are the perfect addition to the tips we share in this video. To access these video lessons, simply download a copy of our complimentary PDF resource: ‘Effectively Using Your Body Language – 5 Powerful Video Lessons’
Mastering effective body language is a skill that takes a lot of practice and a deep focus on your own non-verbal behaviours. The first step, as with most things, is bringing awareness to what our body is doing. Afterwards, we can then experiment with some of the effective body language techniques used by others and see how they fit with our own personal communication style.
The techniques, do’s and don’ts we share in this video will give you a bit of inspiration to get started, but then take your training to the next level with the expert video lessons in our bonus PDF.
Want to learn more about the specific hand gestures you can use while speaking?
All the best,
Founder, Be a Better Guide
In the comments below, share any advice you have on gesturing more effectively while speaking. Any best practices you can share with the community? We’d love to hear from you!
Hi there, Kelsey Tonner here from Be a Better Guide. Today we are talking about how we as tour guides can use body language effectively to communicate that we are confident, capable, and that your guests have nothing to worry about with you in charge.
Your posture and your position are going to be one of the first things that your guests notice. We want to communicate confidence, but at the same time, make them feel at ease, and comfortable with you. So let us dive right in with six tips on how we can use our body language more effectively.
One: Maintain eye contact with your audience. Eye contact is one of the most important elements of body language. No question.
It shows respect and interest in your guests. So, when speaking to your group, ideally you want to focus on individuals within the crowd. You will spend two to three seconds making eye contact with someone here, and then move on to making eye contact with somebody here.
And you kind of scan the crowd, like this. Things that you do not want to do, are fixating on one individual for a long period of time. Because this can very quickly become awkward, and it makes other people feel excluded.
Also, you do not want to be looking at the ground in front of your audience. When speaking, this can affect your projection, but it also communicates a lack of confidence.
Two: Keep an upright, but relaxed, posture. Whether you are sitting or standing, keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
Imagine someone lifting you up from the top of your head. Try to keep your chin about parallel to the floor. Now, this is just a guideline.
If you are obviously taller or shorter, this can change a little bit. But this is a position that will make you appear most confident.
Some things not to do are, never ever turn your back to your audience. This is really, really common, and a big mistake.
Always be aware of your group, and if anyone kind of sneaks behind you, immediately reposition yourself so that everybody can see you.
Three: Practice a firm handshake. In many cultures a handshake is one of the more important nonverbal communication cues, because it happens right at the introduction, or at the beginning of our tour.
A firm handshake can give you instant credibility, while a weak handshake can make you appear fragile. So we want to avoid being too strong, crushing a person’s hand, that is sometimes called “the death grip”.
We also do not want to be too flaccid. Right? Another common mistake is gripping the fingers too soon. So you are way out here like this.
Honestly, the best thing you can do is to ask for feedback on your handshakes. Go to your friends, your family, colleagues, and ask them how they would rate your handshake. Then practice with them and see where you fall on that scale.
Four: Make affirmative movements and actions. You can show empathy when someone else is speaking to you as the guide by nodding your head, and smiling at that person.
These are nonverbal cues that would fall into the category of active listening. A really important body language when you work with people quite a bit.
Now, this instantly communicates that you are engaged, that you are listening, that you are interested in what they have got to say. Some things you want to avoid doing are looking over the shoulders of the person who is speaking.
This is an instant sign of disrespect. Secondly, pulling out your phone while someone is talking and you are listening, leave the phone in your pocket.
Lastly, avoid multitasking in your head. Because there are a lot of subconscious things that get expressed through our faces, through our eyes, and mouth, that people very often pick up the fact that you are not listening that closely.
Five: Emphasize words with your hands. Talking with your hands and using gestures makes you a much more effective communicator.
All of us could probably use more practice on being more intentional with our hand gestures. In fact, it is such an important topic that we made an entirely separate Be a Better Guide video on the exact types of gestures that you can use.
But just know that using your hands makes you appear more assured and confident. Some things not to do, do not keep your arms locked to your side. As this can kind of make you appear nervous, a little bit stressed sometimes, too.
Avoid these sort of, dance party we will call it, sort of excessive or random hand movements will just distract your audience.
Now if you would like some more information on specific hand gestures you can use, check out our video “What to do with our hands when we are speaking”.
Six: Mind your movement. Most of the time you should stand confidently in one place versus sort of pacing or wandering aimlessly.
If you do need to move it should probably be for a purpose. Like maybe to go over and point something out, or maybe to walk to the front of the group and lead them to the next stage of the tour.
Some other things we want to avoid are shifting our weight from one foot to the other. Ideally you are balanced between the two. Secondly, we want to avoid fidgeting.
Right? I was really bad at this. Honestly, if I ever had anything in my hand I would be playing with it. Sometimes I would wring my hands like this.
Sometimes the best thing to do is take things out of your hands so there is nothing there for you to fidget with.
Lastly, avoid any sort of overly robotic gestures that seem really forced. All of your movements should seem very natural, and sort of flow.
Now, we covered a lot really quickly, but because this is such an important topic we wanted to offer you a little bit more.
So we went out into the web and we researched the best body language experts that we could find. And, put together five of our favorite instructional videos.
Now these are awesome. In these videos these experts are going to give you extra tips. They are going to show you how to use your body language to be a more effective leader.
You can get access to all five of those videos and the PDF download below.
But, before you go, we would love to hear from you. What advice do you have for using body language on tour? Where there some mistakes that you made in the past that you corrected? Or other advice for new tour leaders that are out there getting started? Thanks so much for being here. Please pass this video along to anyone you think might find it useful.
Thanks and we will see you next time.