10 body language gestures that signal power and confidence

by Mia Zhang | March 14, 2024, 3:59 pm

Ever walked into a room and felt like someone owned the place, without them saying a word?

That’s the power of body language for you.

Believe it or not, the way you stand, sit, or even move can speak volumes about your confidence and authority.

And whether we like it or not, these non-verbal cues are constantly being judged by others in our professional and personal lives.

So, how do you ensure your body language is shouting ‘confidence’ and ‘power’, not ‘unsure’ and ‘timid’?

Well, that’s what we’re diving into today.

The gestures we’ll explore are subtle, yet powerful movements that can significantly shift how you’re perceived.

Ready to command the room?

Let’s get to it.

1) Steady eye contact

Remember that time you were talking to someone and they kept looking over your shoulder, or worse, at their phone? Frustrating, right? It felt like they couldn’t care less about what you were saying.

Now, flip that scenario. When someone looks you in the eye when you’re speaking, it’s like the world stops – it’s just you and them, and your words matter.

I’ve been on both ends of this gaze game. Once, during a pitch, I caught myself scanning the room instead of focusing on my audience. The result? Let’s just say, I didn’t win that one. 

But when I started holding steady eye contact in subsequent meetings, not only did people listen, but they also responded with enthusiasm.

That’s because locking eyes isn’t just about showing attention; it’s about exuding confidence

And believe me, people can tell the difference.

2) Powerful posture

Slouching in your chair might be comfortable, but it doesn’t exactly scream ‘I’m in charge here’, does it? Early in my career, I was the king of the slouchers. I’d wander into meetings and plop down into my seat like I was settling in for a Netflix binge. 

It wasn’t until a mentor pulled me aside and said, “Stand tall, walk proud,” that things clicked.

The next time I entered a meeting room, I kept my back straight and my shoulders back. You wouldn’t believe the immediate change in how others responded to me. 

It’s as if my physical elevation lifted their perception of my status right along with it.

That simple act of maintaining a powerful posture didn’t just change how others saw me – it changed how I saw myself. 

Suddenly, I wasn’t just pretending to be confident; I felt it coursing through me.

3) Controlled gestures

Controlled gestures, such as purposeful hand movements when speaking or a firm handshake upon greeting someone, display confidence and command respect. 

It’s about the quality, not the quantity of the motion.

Research has shown that people who use their hands to articulate their thoughts are often perceived as more warm, agreeable, and energetic. In contrast, those who remain too still or whose gestures seem erratic may come across as nervous or untrustworthy. 

Quick tip: when you’re in your next meeting or presentation, try to be mindful of your hands. Use them to emphasize points but keep the movements smooth and deliberate.

This can help engage your audience and convey a sense of authority and poise.

4) Mindful mirroring

When you subtly mimic the body language of the person you’re engaging with, it creates a silent rhythm that can foster a deeper connection. This isn’t about imitation, which can quickly become mockery, but rather a gentle echo of their posture, gestures, or expressions.

This synchronization can send a signal that you’re in tune with the other person’s feelings and intentions. It’s a way of non-verbally saying, “I understand you,” and it can be incredibly powerful. 

Also, it shows an emotional intelligence that goes beyond words and can make others feel seen and heard in a profound way. When done with genuine respect and attentiveness, mindful mirroring can build trust and rapport, paving the way for more meaningful and productive interactions.

5) Strategic pausing

There is power in strategic pausing. When you give your words room to breathe, you give people time to digest your ideas. 

It’s not just about giving yourself a moment to think; it’s about giving your message weight. 

Here’s a quick tip: a well-timed pause can underline a point better than any bolded text ever could. It’s a sign of confidence to be comfortable with silence, to not rush through just to avoid it. 

And these pauses can be used to our advantage. We can turn our speeches from frantic monologues into impactful dialogues.

6) Assertive handshakes

A handshake might seem like a small gesture, but it’s one of the first opportunities to make a powerful impression. I remember my first business mentor telling me, “Your handshake is your introduction before you even open your mouth.” Those words stuck with me through countless introductions and meetings. 

An assertive handshake – firm, but not crushing – conveys confidence and sets the tone for any interaction. It’s a physical affirmation of presence and readiness to engage on equal footing.

7) Open body language

Crossed arms can create a barrier that screams “I’m closed off,” potentially putting others on the defensive. I’ve noticed this in networking events where everyone is a bit unsure of themselves.

Those with open body language, arms relaxed or gesturing openly, not only seem more approachable but also radiate a sense of self-assurance

Maintaining an open posture invites others in and suggests you’re in control of the space around you. It’s as if you’re saying, “I’m open to engaging with you and confident in what I bring to the table.”

8) Measured walking pace

The pace at which you walk can tell a story all on its own. Think about it: someone rushing through the halls can give off an air of being late or overburdened, while someone dragging their feet might seem unenthusiastic or disengaged. 

Think about it: a measured, purposeful stride is different. 

It’s something I’ve consciously worked on over time. Walking at a steady pace, with head held high and shoulders squared, projects a sense of purpose and self-assuredness that doesn’t go unnoticed.

9) Space utilization

How much space you take up is directly linked to people’s perception of your power status. I read about an interesting study once that found leaders typically occupy more space, which is perceived as a display of power and dominance. 

Here’s a quick takeaway: this doesn’t mean sprawling out during a meeting, but rather sitting comfortably without shrinking yourself to take up less room. 

By simply choosing to occupy your space assertively, you communicate that you are confident in your right to be there.

10) Consistent voice tonality

Voice tonality can be the deciding factor between sounding unsure or commanding respect. I recall an instance where I had to give feedback to a team member, and despite choosing my words carefully, my voice wavered under the weight of discomfort. The message didn’t land as intended. 

Since then, I’ve learned to keep my tone even and clear, ensuring that my words carry the intended weight. A consistent voice tonality signals certainty and can help maintain an aura of control and influence.

With these body language gestures in mind – it becomes evident that our non-verbal cues are just as critical as what we say. They form the unspoken narrative that can uplift our words and cement our presence as powerful and confident individuals in any setting.

So next time you step into a room, remember that every gesture counts. Use this knowledge as your silent ally, reinforcing your words with the quiet strength of your presence

And who knows? You might just find yourself embodying the power and confidence you project before you even realize it.

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