Body Language of Authors at the Holiday Author Event — “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”

Body Language of Authors at the Holiday Author Event — “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”

by Barbara Chatzkel

I was fortunate to be one of more than 60 authors at the December 6th Holiday Author Event in Phoenix. It was a great experience on many levels. First, I experienced the collective energy of the large group of authors all under one roof — it was very positive and amazing. I also received valuable feedback from attendees on the need for a book on business body language.

Crowd shot1And, since I’m “The Body Language Pro,” I couldn’t help but observe many authors’ body language over six hours. From that intense observation laboratory, I took away six key lessons. They are applicable for authors — or for any businessperson — operating in a public situation where many unscheduled interactions occur over a number of hours:

1. Pace yourself. Your level of fatigue is clearly evident in your body language. At the beginning of the event, most of the authors were standing at their tables, were animated and engaged. By 3:30 p.m., very few individuals could maintain the same level of engaged body language. Remember, the 3:30 p.m. visitor sees you in the moment and doesn’t know how energized you were earlier.

2. First impressions are formed before attendees reach your table. You are ALWAYS on stage. The event was one long reality show where the authors were always on camera. Just because someone isn’t standing in front of your table, you can’t consider yourself “off camera.” If you are sitting in a chair, face bending over your phone or tablet checking your email, the potential visitor may decide that you aren’t interested in meeting them and may bypass your table altogether. What a lost opportunity!

3. You should initiate the first contact. This is not the time to be shy. Greet your visitor with a short, positive statement. Something like, “Thanks for stopping by. Let me tell you about my latest book.” The visitor doesn’t know what you have to offer, so tell them.

4. Use welcoming hand and arm gestures. Since you are probably behind your table (a “no-no” if avoidable — see below), you must create a safe and welcoming place for the visitor to have a conversation. Avoid pointing at people; point only things. Use hand gestures with your palms up and movement toward you. If the situation is right, shaking hands is always a welcoming gesture. See the image below for directions on the perfect handshake.

hand shake5. When possible, stand IN FRONT of your table or booth. Remove all barriers between you and your visitors, whenever possible. You are much more approachable when you are “face-to-face” with your visitor. Hold a copy of your book in your hand as a prop during your conversation.

6. Smile, smile, smile. Yes, you may think you are smiling, but I want you to smile with your full face — and mean it. Your visitor will unconsciously check whether the body language messages you are transmitting are congruent; your lips may have a small smile, but what are your eyebrows, nose, shoulders, and feet saying? You want to be Mr. or Ms. Genuinely Happy for the whole event. Nobody comes to visit a sourpuss.

These are just some of the body language expressions I witnessed during this recent session. Beginning to incorporate these tips will greatly increase your “approachability” rating.

Want to learn more? Contact me at with your questions or comments.

PLEASE NOTE: Barbara Chatzkel typically publishes on the 24th of the month, but we had an opening, so she stepped up to keep us blogging!

Barbara Chatzkel’s ability to provide a vibrant and behavior-changing book extends Chatzkelacross industry segments – everyone uses business body language. Her coaching and consulting expertise on business body language grew from conducting union negotiations, managing difficult personnel situations, managing at multiple levels, and extensive business coaching experience. Her new book,
Business Body Language: Your Visual Business Card, will be available in print in early 2015. Visit her website today for further information.

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