Cygnus Centre of Excellence

Top 5 Body Language Mistakes You Must Avoid At Any Cost

Body Language Blunders

Beware of gestures and postures that send wrong signals

Body language blunders ( body language mistakes) can dilute credibility and display lack of confidence. Our cross cultural expert tells how we can create the right impact and avoid these blunders.

Body Language Awareness

Business and political leaders display strong body language as they’re aware that their audiences are constantly judging them by these non-verbal signals. US Presidents retain experts during their election campaigns, who advise them on gestures that make them appear trust-worthy and capable – traits that voters admire. In my experience, I have noticed the following body language blunders which dilute credibility and display lack of confidence in the boardroom. On the flip side, a proper body language plays a pivotal role towards success.

Some Common Body Language Mistakes

Impact of common body language mistakes

Incessant Nodding

Nodding is an integral part of our culture and a nod signals at a non-verbal level “I am listening to you” or “I agree with you”, both conveying a strong positive message. However, this message can be negated with fast, repetitive nods which convey anxiety or show excessive eagerness to please. On the other hand, a slow, deliberate nod utilizes body language message to convey agreement in a confident way. 

Poor Posture

Our sedentary lifestyles and constant use of technology gadgets have led to slouching and hunching for long hours. While walking with a book on your head is no longer practiced, bad posture conveys “I don’t care” or as the Gen Y says “Whatever!” Sitting and standing upright when interacting with your business associates shows “I am confident” and” I am motivated to be with you”, signals that clinch deals across the world.


Tapping your feet, drumming your fingers, doodling, touching your hair/ face all conveys the same message “I’d rather be somewhere else”. Instead, minimize your body language gestures when you need to convey a powerful message with words, thereby ensuring your listeners are free to focus on the verbal and are not distracted by your non-verbal signals. 

Reducing Physical Space

People who are under-confident tend to shrink into their own bodies, reducing the space they take up physically and in the minds of their listeners. On the other hand, when making a presentation enhance your physical space by spreading your belongings, moving around when presenting and using hand gestures, creating the visual of being bigger and more powerful.

Clenching Fists

This closed signal conveys nervousness, being short-tempered or “I am not open for suggestions”. Force your hands open, as open palms show honesty, transparency and being at ease – all positive signals.

Finally, don’t read from the slides and keep slides to minimum. This enables people to focus on your ability and knowledge as a speaker. You are the biggest visual! Awareness of these negative signals can assist in ensuring that your personal impact is enhanced in the boardroom.

Shital Kakkar Mehra
Shital Kakkar Mehra
Executive Presence Coach for CEOs | | Website

Executive Presence Coach for CEOs, cross cultural expert & keynote speaker, best selling author,  Co-founder of Katalyst NGO, Shital has over 2 decades of experience in coaching senior leaders of India Inc. She is a social entrepreneur and loves to travel.

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