Body Language: Six non-verbal ways to command attention

Occasionally, and often without conscious effort, we command attention for the wrong reasons and find ourselves darting around conversationally, nervously backtracking thinking quickly on our feet of ways to restore equilibrium and wishing it was possible to disappear.

Image courtesy of [Adobe Stock](

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

Moreover, there are times conversely when no matter what we say or how we position ourselves, physically and emotionally poised to deliver relevant ideas or news and nobody accepts what we have to say seriously. Even worse, they look elsewhere or talk amongst themselves as we earnestly present our pearls of wisdom.

Some of us are seemingly invisible in small groups and have you noticed there is undoubtedly always someone who commands levels of positive attention vastly disproportionate to their ability to thoughtfully contribute.

Fundamentally, confident people command attention, and here's the thing; intelligence does not come into the equation. Assuming we know, there are certain physical actions we can take to influence the subconscious minds of others in such a way to make them sit up and listen and equally there are incredibly subtle signals you can start to observe in others, we call these "tells". That will help you gauge how your ideas and insights, proposals and requests are received. Your audience may say one thing, but their body language is saying the opposite.

1. Get in their space

Charismatic, confident people meet others in their space. It is vital to be client-focused, so when meeting someone for the first time, step forward first to shake their hand, not the other way round.

2. Stay physically still

A simple yet effective rule of thumb to follow if you want to appear more confident and command attention is to move less. The primal knowledge behind this is straightforward; those with most to fear are continually appraising their surrounding for predators and those with less to fear, remain physically calm.

Some of us tend to move our heads too often when we speak. If the head is still or moved slowly; it reveals that whoever is speaking is serious, confident and authoritative. Continuously moving one’s head with constant ducking and darting eye movements indicates someone under threat and of lesser status.

3. Exude confidence to boost your status

We mentioned above the word "status". Here we offer a cautionary note, being perceived as higher status than your boss, colleagues or clients might not always be a good thing. Equally being considered of lower status can be detrimental to your success. Before purposefully manipulating your perceived status to command attention, be mindful of others and the situation you are in, then determine the appropriate level to benefit you most.

Our third tip is surprisingly simple yet deviously effective. With tiny changes to your body language, you can alter how others perceive you both consciously and subconsciously. By modifying your physiology, that is merely acting more confident than you feel, others will view you as being self-assured and, you will become more confident. Fake it to make it.

4. Mind your hands

How we use our hands when engaging others reveals much about how we perceive ourselves, yet most of us give little thought to the messages we are transmitting.

Talking from behind a desk with our palms facing down on it, indicates we have a high level of personal confidence. If you choose to adopt this action, occasionally show your palms, so not to be thought of as controlling or overbearing.

To command attention and appear more confident when making presentations, refrain from placing your hands in the palm up position, while signifying you are trustworthy and honest, it also displays a lack of power and authority. Watch for this in others and observe their palm up as they explain themselves and seek acceptance of their ideas, not controlling the conversation.

If you mostly adopt palms up gestures as you speak, start interspersing slightly more palms down movements, this informs others on a subconscious level you are confident, in control open and likeable.

5. Adopt the "finger pinch hold"

If you attend sales seminars or indeed any event where you have to listen to a professionally trained speaker, you will notice the occasional use of the finger pinch hold. (thumb and first finger together) This powerful hand gesture suggests confidence, high status, and authority. It is also used to emphasise especially important points you are making verbally.

6. Think of Roger Moore's Bond

Raising your eyebrows to others indicates you are friendly, open and therefore confident. It is a clear way of asking for attention from others. If you move your head slowly on a single plane, then look at someone while raising your eyebrows, you are demanding attention and a response.

It is a good idea to practice these techniques with friends and colleagues before attempting them in important meetings. Try one technique at a time until it becomes second nature and remember you must plan to command attention. Good Luck.

This article was written by Stephen C. Young. If you enjoyed these helpful tips, then you can buy his book, Brilliant Persuasion, for further advice on boosting your powers of persuasion.


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