How Great Leaders Use Body Language to Establish a Strong Presence

You may have sometimes wondered why a particular person was considered a great leader when they weren’t even the smartest person in the room. You see that people are drawn to them, but you can’t exactly put your finger on it. The answer lies in subtle nonverbal signals we call body language.

People evaluate body language completely unconsciously and form their first impressions about one another before actually engaging in conversation. This is precisely why body language plays one of the key roles in effective communication. Here are several ways great leaders use body language to show confidence and establish a strong presence.

Taking a Powerful Pose

An open posture paints the picture of an incredibly confident and powerful person. Not only can it make people see you like that, but it can also help you feel exactly the same. When you stand with your legs stretched a bit and put your hands on your hips, you instantly boost your confidence, and that reflects on the people around you. It’s a highly powerful pose that shows that you’re in charge.

This pose is very effective because it enhances the testosterone levels while lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol at the same time. When your testosterone levels are higher, you feel more powerful and dominant, which is exactly how it makes people perceive you.

Using Hand Gestures

When great leaders use powerful body language, they manage to convey the meaning behind their words. You need to make sure that your body language matches your words, which is why you should make use of hand gestures that support your words.

If your arms are folded, you may come off as unapproachable, and if you’re keeping them by your side or in your pockets, you may look insecure. On the other hand, waving your hands when you’re talking about something can enhance your thinking, but it can also make people understand what you’re saying much easier. Moreover, it can make them believe everything you say since it helps you establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Keeping Their Voice Down

The tone of your voice is also very important when you want to establish a strong presence. If your vocal tone is high, people may find you irritating, while having a resonant voice will make you look authoritative. Therefore, you should always start your sentences on one note and gradually raise the pitch of your voice before dropping it at the end of the sentences.

Undertones can make your speech much more effective because people find them extremely soothing. If you use them in your speech, you will definitely show that you are a natural leader.


When you smile, you feel a lot better and, thus, you appear more trustworthy and confident. Smiling makes you approachable and instantly likeable. When you smile at someone, they smile back, because that is the genuine effect of this amazing facial expression. Your positive vibes reflect on others and they instantly respond in a positive way.

They do so because smiling is contagious. When you smile, all those “happy” hormones are released (endorphins, serotonin, dopamine), and you immediately feel relaxed and stress-free. As a result, other people respond exactly the same way and see you as a confident, friendly and respectable leader.

Making Just Enough Eye Contact

Eye contact is very important for establishing trust and creating strong bonds with people, but what great leaders know is exactly how long they should maintain eye contact with someone and when they should look away. This is because too much eye contact can make people feel uncomfortable and it may even seem aggressive, while too little eye contact almost always seems dishonest or insecure.

Therefore, you should make sure that you make just enough eye contact with your audience to instill trust and paint the picture of a sincere person. However, when you are listening to someone, you should make longer eye contact, as it shows that you are truly listening to them and that you are interested in what they have to say.

Having a Firm Handshake

When you shake hands with someone, you have the opportunity to create a very strong first impression. However, in order to show that you are a strong, confident and positive person, you need to have a firm handshake and use your whole hand. You know those people who have either a too tight or too loose handshake, or even use just their fingertips? They don’t seem very strong or extroverted, do they?

If you want to establish a strong presence wherever you are, make sure that you shake hands with people firmly and briefly. That is a perfect way to say that you’re in charge and for people to be more open towards you.

If you want to boost your nonverbal impact and become a truly successful and powerful leader, make sure you adapt these behaviours and harness the power of body language. Your communication will be much more compelling and you will always convey trustworthiness.


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