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Using Nonverbal Communication to run an Effective Meeting

How can nonverbal communication help you run a meeting? How can it help you call a meeting to order, emphasize important topics, show approval, express reservations, regulate the flow of conversation, and invite a colleague to continue with a comment?

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1. How can nonverbal communication help you run a meeting?

Nonverbal communication in business is important and useful. There are five key elements that can make or break your attempt at successful non-verbal business communication and influencing people during a meeting:

Eye contact
Posture, and
Written communication

Let's examine each nonverbal element to understand how they help to maximize team members potential to communicate effectively (Source:


Good eye contact helps your audience develop trust in you, thereby helping you and your message appear credible. Poor eye contact does exactly the opposite. So what is 'good' eye contact? People rely on visual clues to help them decide on whether to attend to a message or not. If they find that someone isn't 'looking' at them when they are being spoken to, they feel uneasy.

So it is a wise business communicator that makes a point of attempting to engage every member of the audience by looking at them.

It is easier for smaller audiences, but in an auditorium it can be a much harder task. So balance your time between these three areas:

- slowly scanning the entire audience,
- focusing on particular areas of your audience (perhaps looking at the wall between two heads if you are still intimidated by public speaking), and
- looking at individual members of the audience for about five seconds per person.

Looking at individual members of a large group can be 'tricky' to get right at first. Equally, it can be a fine balancing act if your audience comprises of just one or two members-spend too much time looking them in the eyes and they will feel intimidated, stared at, 'hunted down'. So here's a useful tip: break your eye-to-eye contact down to four or five second chunks. That is, look at the other person in blocks that last four to five seconds, then look away. That way they won't feel intimidated.

It is helpful to practice this timing yourself, away from others. Just look at a spot on the wall, count to five, then look away. With practice you will be able to develop a 'feel' for how long you have been looking into your audience member's eyes and intuitively know when to look away and focus on another person or object. When focusing on individual members in a large meeting or auditorium, try and geographically spread your attention throughout the ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains the implications of using nonverbal communication to run a meeting, for such things as calling a meeting to order, emphasizing important topics, showing approval, expressing reservations, regulating the flow of conversation, and inviting a colleague to continue with a comment.