Yes, Body Language Matters

This week the PDXSX cohort attended a networking event hosted by the University of Oregon Alumni Association. As we entered the Turnbull Center, we checked in, mingled and were seated to listen to keynote speaker Vanessa Van Edwards of Science of The People. The topic of the lecture was something you normally wouldn’t think of before entering an interview but focused on a critical skill, managing your body language.

You might be thinking: body language, who cares? It’s all about how you sell yourself to your future employers.

But in reality, body language makes up around 60 percent of our nonverbal communication and if you really want to nail that interview you have to impress the interviewer with more than just your verbal skills.

You have around one second to sell yourself to your interviewer. That one second relies on your body language. Realistically, there’s no way you can finish saying hello before your interviewer has decided if he or she likes or dislikes you.

So now what? Sit up straight. Uncross your arms. Smile genuinely (tip: make your crow’s feet wrinkle). Be yourself. Your confidence will naturally shine through both verbally and nonverbally.

And lastly, practice your body language with friends or even in the mirror. It might sound lame, but learning your body language skills will lead to success in the real world.

Good luck!


Allyson Walters

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8 Responses to Yes, Body Language Matters

  1. pcriscola says:

    Vanessa did a great job the other night and made some interesting points! Making sure that you are engaged and active in the conversation is really important, especially in an interview or someone you hope you work with some day! I grew up a dancer and I had a teacher who taught musical theater and we would have to sit in front of the mirror and practice out facial expressions. I always felt silly doing it in front of my peers, but come time of performance I am glad she made us do it because I felt confident in what I was doing. Same goes for interviews, or even conversations with friends. Being expressive is really important so you don’t give off the wrong impression and being aware of what your body looks likes and how you react to situations will help you land a job or ruin your chance! Thank for sharing!

  2. pdxsx says:

    Bam! Simple, concise, insightful and useful. Well done, Allyson!

  3. I really enjoyed the speaker (to my surprise) as well! Such an important thing to be aware of that I have never thought of before. So interesting. I have been trying to implement it at my internship, I think how you present yourself really does make all of the difference. I didn’t realize it made up 60% of communication, wild.

  4. Thanks for expanding on what Vanessa said. Both of you have made some interesting points. I wish I had thought about this sooner, because looking back I may have missed out on opportunities because of the way I presented myself. If I am nervous (and I usually am during interviews), I tend to close myself off and cross my arms, similar to the second image in the photo you’ve included. I thought Vanessa made an interesting point about practicing power poses before an interview, and the study that discovered that it increased levels of testosterone. I will definitely give that a try before my next big interview.

  5. I thought Vanessa was great! I loved the pictures she did where people were fake smiling…it really was so obvious! It’s great takeaway for interviews as you point out. If you go into an interview and don’t seem genuine, comfortable and likable, how can you ever expect to be picked out of a flurry of candidates?

  6. Great review of Vanessa’s presentation! She gave a lot of useful tips to use at work or interviews. What really interested me was how just standing tall and confident can make such a difference on how you act and feel. Also, how bad posture and even looking at your phone can bring you down. It was interesting learning about how to make a good first impression as well. You bring up the point about how body language is key to selling yourself to future employers, and that makes a lot of sense.

  7. kathy kwong says:

    This is very useful and very true. I have learned that posture can guide how you present yourself. In interviews you want your body language to come off open and confident and inviting. I’ve also heard that sitting while planting both feet on the ground makes you listen and take in information in a different way than sitting back closed off (e.g. arms crossed). It’s often easier to clam up when we’re nervous, especially in interviews. I believe that if you keep a conscious effort to posture your body to a welcoming and open way, it can consciously make you feel more confident in your speaking ability and overall presence. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. feeneyy says:

    Love this! This is a great recap of the valuable points Vanessa touched on in her presentation. Body language is something that I forget to adjust to often, so it was great to hear more about from both you and Vanessa. Thanks!

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