Common Body Language Mistakes When Talking To VIPs

15 Common Mistakes in Your Body Language When Meeting with a VIP

Post Written By Expert Panel Forbes Councils Member

When meeting with a VIP, whether it’s a business partner or a potential investor, you want to present yourself in the best possible light. This involves two facets: the content of your conversation and your body language.

Nonverbal communication, including your posture, gestures, and eye contact, can convey a lot of information to the person you’re speaking with. Seemingly small adjustments can significantly impact the energy, connection, and overall success of an interaction. To keep your VIP conversations running smoothly, the members of Forbes Business Council shared 15 common body language mistakes to avoid—and what to do instead.

1. Being Too Concerned About Your Body Language 

Besides the obvious (keeping eye contact, not folding arms, avoiding bad posture, etc.), there is one major mistake one can make: being too concerned about your body language! A VIP is a human being too—nothing more, nothing less. If you relax and be yourself, you will have a successful conversation. – Tobias HannMOSTLY AI

2. Not ‘Showing’ You’re Listening 

We each communicate on so many levels—we’re wired for this. Over the past two years with Zoom, some may have thought body language was an area requiring less focus. Ironically, it is even more important, as we seek to connect via a challenging medium. Whether on-screen or in real life, the mistake to avoid is the same: a lack of eye contact, which suggests a lack of focus on others. “Show” you’re listening. – Gregory RollTouchpoint Associates

3. Looking At Yourself On Video Calls

At least remotely, it is critical to look towards the camera instead of at yourself when video chatting. When you look up, it makes your entire posture more pronounced, as well as creates a more engaging conversation for the person you are speaking with. If you are on the phone, try smiling while you speak — you’d be surprised how it impacts the tone of what you are saying! – Maurice HararyThe Bid Lab

4. ‘Closing Off’ the Conversation

Nonverbal communication is paramount when holding a conversation. One of the most common and damaging gestures is crossing one’s arms. Oftentimes, this is an involuntary response to not knowing what to do with your hands. Even as a nervous response, it can be misconstrued as closing off the conversation or communication. – Dennis MoralesDRINK LABS

5. Having a Rigid Stance

Those keen using body language when seeking to understand the other party will often pick up on the ridge stances or seating. Forgetting to make subtle mirroring mannerisms may show a lack of interest in the topic despite one being nervous. This may often be shown when the person turns their shoulders in the opposite direction of the person talking to them. The energy can shift substantially, so relax. – Paul L. GunnKUOG Corporation

6. Focusing on Your Notes Instead of the Other Person

Eye-to-eye contact has been a “truth detector” for centuries. It’s interpreted as showing you really care about the discussion and are telling the truth. Because people often want to review notes, they forget how important this is. And, now after years of virtual meetings on Zoom, etc. where people focused on multiple screens and notes, this is an error that more often happens. Remember! – Jerry CahnAge Brilliantly (.org)

7. Keeping Your Head Down 

Avoid lowering your head and hunching your shoulders when talking to a VIP or potential investor because it can come across as a lack of confidence. Keep your chin up during the interaction, as this also ensures that you are maintaining eye contact. This keeps conversations engaging and meetings more productive. – Saravana

8. Prioritizing Social Skills at the Expense of Content 

I don’t think people should be judged by their body language or ability to speak in public under pressure. We should encourage people to be themselves more and be judged on the content of what they are talking about and their business potential. Try to see beyond the social skills. – Lucie Marchelot ShuklaUplift Health

9. Glancing at Your Phone 

Glancing at a watch or a phone. In the modern world, it might be hard to avoid looking down at your phone to check the time or read a notification. However, it doesn’t send the right message to your interlocutor. The general rule of thumb is that you put away your phone altogether. Otherwise, if you pay too much attention to it, you will be perceived as disinterested, bored or rude. – Tytus GołasTidio

10. Ignoring Eye Contact 

From my experience, paying attention to your head movements and eye signal engagement is a no-brainer. Paying attention to your nonverbal communication is critical to a successful conversation, regardless of who you are talking to. Eye contact is crucial, as this builds trust with (and concentration on) your communication partner. – Michael EdeUplift11 Sports

11. Crossing Your Arms 

Avoid crossing your arms, even if you’re cold. It really puts me off when someone does this without saying why, and it definitely projects a very negative energy in our interaction. – Dr. David LenihanTiber Health

12. Looking Around the Room

One common body language mistake people make when conversing with others is failing to make eye contact. It’s tempting to look around the room or fix your gaze on a point in the distance, but it is essential to remember that eye contact is key to building rapport. When you avoid making eye contact, it conveys a lack of interest. – Tomas KeenanBreak Free Academy

13. Having a Defensive Posture 

Defensive posture, such as folded arms, is a sure sign that someone has either a hidden agenda or some other issue they are holding onto. Make sure you look open to conversation by adopting inviting postures such as good eye contact, relaxed shoulders and leaning in a bit to show that you’re focused and engaged. – Ty AllenSocialClimb

14. Yawning 

This one may sound trivial, but it is not. Avoid yawning. It makes you appear disinterested, disengaged and exhausted. The impression this can give to a VIP or potential investor would be alarming and off-putting. Stay alert, make eye contact and bring your best energy forward in a calm and inviting manner. Present yourself as engaged, excited and ready to listen. – Sam KaufmanOn The Level Construction, LLC

15. Not Giving Your Full Attention 

In my experience, the best way to stay engaged in the conversation and also let the other person know you’re interested and engaged is to lean forward and focus on them. Let them know you’re listening by giving them your full attention. Don’t be distracted by items in the room or your phone. Give them the same attention you want them to give to you and your presentation. – Chris ClearClear Storage Group, LLC

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