When you meet someone for the first time or present at an event, follow these tips to come across as poised, professional and confident—even if you’re a nervous wreck:
Watch your pace. According to Donna Van Natten, the Body Language Dr. and author of Image Scrimmage, the optimal rate people can process information is between 170–190 words per minute. Anything slower, and people zone out. Anything faster, and they struggle to keep up. Watch your pace, and don’t let your nerves drive you to talk too fast.
Smile and make eye contact. When you are stressed or apprehensive, you often forget to smile and you’ll avoid eye contact at all cost. Don’t. Both are keys to showing your audience that you—and what you are saying—can be trusted.
Don’t botch the handshake. A bad handshake can leave the worst impression on people (think: the dead fish handshake). Instead, extend your hand confidently and lock hands, but match your grip to the other person’s. Then offer five to seven pumps before unlocking hands.
—Adapted from “4 Powerful Body Language Habits of Confident People,” Marcel Schwantes, Inc., www.inc.com.