First impressions mean everything when you’re talking to investors. Before people invest in you, they have to like you and want to work with you.
What can you do to win trust during a pitch? Concentrate on exhibiting clear and positive non-verbal behaviour. Body language may be the last thing you think about when you’re feverishly preparing the details of your pitch deck, but displaying positive body language can make a big impact on your audience.
The human brain develops assumptions about a situation through reading other people’s body language. Now, when I say “body language,” I don’t just mean the various ways that we move our bodies. Body language encompasses everything from how we position our body to our proximity to objects, and from our facial expressions to our eye contact and breath delivery.
When your body language doesn’t match your words, investors will likely believe what they see more than what you say.
Whether you’re competing in a large event like RESI on MaRS or in a small one-on-one meeting, exhibiting confident body language shows that you have confidence in your company and that others should, too.
In my time as a seasoned CEO and entrepreneur, I’ve made thousands of pitches, and I have subscribed to Mark Bowden’s techniques every time. Mark is one of the world’s best performance trainers, and he is highly sought after for his business-presentation acumen.
His methods and way of thinking aren’t just important for fundraising CEOs. The way we communicate defines our relationships both at work and in our personal lives. I sat down with Mark to get his top body language tips that every person should know before making a first impression.
1. Put your body on display.
Step away from the lectern, avoid standing behind furniture and, if you’re seated, pull your chair back from the table. “If your audience can’t see enough of you, their ‘reptilian’ brain unconsciously defaults to negative assumptions about your pitch. The more they see of you, the more they will trust you.”
2. Speak from your belly.
“Place your hands in the horizontal plane that extends 180 degrees out from your navel area—or what I call the ‘truthplane.’ Bringing the audience’s unconscious attention to this vulnerable area of your body will make them feel that you are very confident. Plus, by assuming this position you’ll actually feel more confident. This simple trick can make the difference between an idea being perceived as credible or being considered inferior.”
3. Show your hands.
Keep your palms open and don’t hold anything in your hands. This lets others know that you mean no harm and are speaking for their benefit. “It’s a universally recognized ‘friendly’ gesture.”
If you want to learn more about body language, register for Win the Pitch with Winning Body Language, MaRS’ upcoming event with Mark Bowden. You’ll learn techniques to help you inspire your audience and get the results you need.