Posture represented by a woman with arms folded, a woman with her head tilted, a man standing firmly, a man with one foot off the ground, a woman leaning in to her friend.

We give clues about what we are thinking by the way we sit or stand. That doesn’t mean that everyone who sits upright is interested or that everyone who slumps is bored. But paying attention to posture can help us communicate a message more clearly.

Posture is usually interpreted at a subconscious level. Here are some examples of posture with some generally accepted meanings:

Leaning slightly towards a speaker Suggests interest in a topic
Tilting head to one sideSuggests you are listening
Standing with both feet on the groundSuggests confidence
Standing with weight on one footSuggests uncertainty

You can use your own posture to your advantage when you are in a discussion or giving a presentation. Show that you are interested and engaged with a speaker by leaning slightly towards them and tilting your head to one side. Feel the difference yourself, for example, when you fold your arms and sit back in your chair.

To appear more confident when delivering a speech or presentation:

  • plant your feet firmly on the ground, about hip distance apart
  • roll your shoulders back
  • keep your chin up
  • keep your arms relaxed and by your side, unless you are making specific gestures

Even if you don’t feel confident on the inside, this posture will go some way to convincing your audience that you know what you’re talking about.

Watch how the One Show hosts and their guests Michael Palin and Sam Smith adopt confident postures