Meeting Notes

Summary of the Program at the Cincinnati NIRI Chapter Meeting on November 9, 2010

What You Aren’t Saying: What You Should Know About Non-Verbal Communications and Body Language

The Cincinnati Tri-State Chapter of NIRI held its second meeting of the season on November 9, 2010. Patti Wood, a nationally acclaimed speaker on the topic of non-verbal communication, led a very interactive workshop for members and numerous guests. Several times participants paired up with others in the room to practice what we just learned, and to share insights.
Reading body language is important to Investor Relations professionals as we often meet face-to-face with investors. How many times have you left a meeting with investors wondering how well it really went? Patti helped us understand the importance of first impressions, and then deepened our understanding of handshaking, various gestures, and aspects of power.
Regarding first impressions, Patti noted that research indicates 10,000 non-verbal cues could be conveyed in a single minute. While we subconsciously process these cues almost constantly, our objective should be to raise it to a more conscious level. Since it can take up to six months to change an incorrect first impression it’s important to try to make the right impression. First impressions are highly accurate – that’s one reason kids and dogs have such good instincts.
Handshakes are powerful in that they are the equivalent of three hours of face-to-face interaction. Patti provided tips on how to shake hands effectively, things to avoid, and even how to recover in an instance when your handshake is less than you hoped it would be. Participants engaged in several brief exercises to practice these tips.

We learned more about how use of space around the body usually reflects power, and that various body positions and gestures provide important non-verbal messages. Exercises included seeing how placement of feet can indicate how open someone is to your message or to negotiating. Patti taught that there are several “body windows” such as the hands, eyes or throat area that communicate beyond words. Examples include:

  • Mouth Guard – Covering our mouth is often a symbol for suppressing a negative thought, and putting one’s hand over the mouth can happen in a lying situation so the truth won’t come out.
  • Holding Motions – When our parents held onto us it conveyed that everything would be okay. As adults we may hold our hands together, or grip our arms in a self-hug as we speak.
  • Do they understand? When people are confused they may touch their temple symbolically, touching the “on” button for their brain. Their eyes may blink or stretch open, as if they want see more clearly.
  • Do they doubt you or your claims? A suspicious person is trying to form an opinion and their body shows the discomfort. If someone does not believe you they may grimace and exhale through clenched teeth or give a tight smile to mask their displeasure.
  • Are they interested or excited? They may signal their interest by smiling, tilting the head to hear better, or blink with excitement so as not to miss anything. They are “up” for what you are saying so their overall posture will be up and attentive as well.