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Friday, April 3, 2009

Strategy To Set Your Body Language Before Entering Into Crowded Room

Nearly everyone at some time feels nervous when entering a crowded room. Even that confident-looking man or woman in the corner probably has butterflies inside them. So how can you alleviate these feelings and make new contacts and friends in this situation?

First make sure you have taken care over your appearance and that you are wearing the appropriate clothes for the occasion. Wear something that makes you feel good, that you know suits you and wear colours that enhance your confidence and not drain it. Also ensure that you are well groomed and for women, wearing make up can considerably enhance your confidence,
particularly lipstick.

Many people fear entering a crowded room because they are afraid that everyone will be looking at them. They won’t. I promise you that unless you are a famous actor, royal personage, celebrity, or Prime Minister/President then hardly anyone will even notice you arrive. For show-offs like me I find this most disappointing!

Before you enter that room ensure that your inner voice is correct:
  • I can handle this
  • I am confident
  • I am going to enjoy meeting some new people today
I know you won’t trust that inner voice to begin with but remember the body will do what the brain tells it and vice verse.

So put your shoulders back, open your chest, stand tall and ensure that your posture is upright, not too stiff but confident.

One other trick that can help you is to visualize an experience in your life where you felt extremely pleased and proud of yourself, where perhaps you had just achieved something, you’d passed an examination, or your driving test for example. How did you feel then? What was your body language like? Yes, head up, confident, smiling. By evoking this experience you can release the positive thoughts and emotions, your body language will respond accordingly and you will look and become more confident.

SILENCE that awful little negative voice that keeps creeping in saying things like ‘ I am going to hate this.’ ‘I can’t do this.’ ‘I wish the ground would swallow me up and I could disappear.’ ‘I wish I could escape.’ Can you see how this kind of inner voice will drag you down, and pull all your body language with it? If you believe you are going to hate it – you WILL hate it.

Look for the lone person

Make sure you arrive in plenty of time, neither too early or late. Stand just inside the room and look around you. Now, there are a number of things you can do, all of which I do myself. Look for someone who is standing on his or her own. They may be looking lost; they may be reading the program or standing with a cup of coffee but they are alone. Move forward and approach them. Don’t get too close but keep your personal space distance, smile and give them eye contact. You can then open the conversation by saying ‘Hello, is it all right if I join you?’

They will, believe me, be overwhelmed with gratitude. They smile and say, ‘Of course.’

Then you can introduce yourself. Here you may wish to extend your hand, ‘I’m Jane Smith.’
‘Harry Brown.’ ‘Is this your first time here, Harry?’ or ‘Have you been to one of these events before, Harry?’

You may have noticed that in my response I have repeated their name. This is an old trick and one that will help you remember their name. It works for me every time.

Don’t approach two people standing face to face or a threesome standing in a triangle as their body language is communicating that they do not wish to be interrupted. If you do need to break into a triangle stand just on the edge and wait until there is a change in body language or a natural gap in the conversation.

Join a queue

Another way of making contacts at these types of events is to join a queue. There is always a queue: for coffee, for lunch, for signing in, for looking at things on tables etc. It is then very simple to turn to the person behind you or in front of you and start a conversation with some thing along the lines of:
  • ‘I hate these queues, don’t you?’
  • ‘The food smells nice, doesn’t it?’
  • ‘I’m really looking forward to my coffee, the journey
  • here was dreadful this morning – did you get held up on the train?’
Ask questions, for example about their occupation, where they have come from, how they traveled to the venue?

Nod your head to encourage them to talk, keep eye contact relaxed and friendly, smile comfortably and tilt your head to show that you are listening to them. If you are particularly brave lightly touch them on the arm, beneath the elbow, to connect with them.

Do not overstay your welcome or hog them for the entire event but move on and try talking to someone else. As you sit down for example – ‘Is this anyone’s seat?’ ‘I’m looking forward to this seminar are you?’ ‘How far did you have to come today?’ ‘Have you been to any of these before?’ And you’re off.

What if you get stuck with the bore?

Having been brave enough to find someone to talk to, and having opened up the conversation, what happens if you then discover that you are saddled with the seminar nutcase or the complete bore? You have tried your hardest to be nice and to listen but the time has come for you to move on. How do you do this politely?

When you do need to move on you can formalize this by stretching out your hand and saying, ‘It’s been really nice meeting you/talking to you. I hope you enjoy the show/seminar, have a safe journey home.’ Or you may lightly touch them on the arm, (again below the elbow) smile and say the above without shaking hands, depending on the formality of the gathering.

Sometimes another person will enter your conversation making the group a trio. Hopefully your new contact will introduce you but if they don’t introduce yourself offer your hand and say
‘Hello I’m xxxx.’

Alternatively you may use this as the time to duck out. Make your apologies, smile and move on.