Much of what you communicate during presentations is through body language alone, so your nervous fidgeting and crossed arms say a lot, even if you're not speaking. Investors are adept at reading people and gathering information in a short period of time, so pay attention to your composure next time you practice in the mirror.
Six entrepreneurs below disclose major body language faux pas to avoid when speaking to an investor or potential partner.
1. Crossing your arms.
Don't cross your arms when you are talking with a VIP. It makes you seem introverted and secretive. Instead, place your hands on your sides because it makes you seem open.
I often see entrepreneurs (particularly women in heels) swaying as they speak with VIPs. It makes whatever you're saying sound uncertain, even if your voice doesn't waver.
3. Subconsciously covering yourself.
Be confident and in control. Think positively, and it will show. And refrain from putting objects in front of yourself or touching your face -- covering yourself suggests you have something to hide.
4. Not paying attention to hand gestures.
Always look at hand gestures. If a VIP's arms are crossed or his or her hands are clenched, that mean it's time to stop or clarify.
This is my single biggest pet peeve when I am in a meeting with anyone, let alone a potential investor or partner. If they are fidgeting, I can't keep myself from watching them fidget, and then I lose my train of thought.
6. Avoiding eye contact.
Avoiding eye contact can come across as deceptive or a sign of nervousness. Effective eye contact is essential for communicating upward.