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Tips for Nervous Entrepreneurs


The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is forgetting to use their nonverbal communication.

In fact, most entrepreneurs think about the verbal content of their elevator pitch, sales script or marketing video but completely ignore the nonverbal content.

We are trained to think about what we say, not how we say it.

However, studies have shown that 60% of our communication is nonverbal. This means that by not thinking about our body language, we are only using 40% of our communication ability. And believe me, as an entrepreneur, I know we need to use every skill we have to convince customers, investors and clients to use our brand.

Body language is the hidden tool that will give you an added edge in your business. And I’ll show you how:

5 Tips for Nervous Entrepreneurs, Body language tips for entrepreneurs, body language tips for nervousness

1. The Power of Hands

Many people think that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but in fact, our hands speak volumes about who we are. Research has found that our brain looks at hands more than any other body part. The reason for this, researchers believe, is evolutionary. For example, back in cave-man days when a stranger approached you, the first thing you did was look at their hands to see if they were carrying a weapon. Our brains are trained to look at hands as a safety mechanism to make sure people won’t attack us. In fact, the brain has trouble trusting someone when we can’t see their hands.

In my course I talk about one study of courtroom body language that found that juries rated defendants who kept their hands out of sight under the table as more sneaky and mistrustful. This is essential for entrepreneurs. When pitching or having meetings always keep your hands visible. Don’t put them in pockets, tuck them under your arms or the table. Your trust ratings will increase if you have them visible.

2. Nervous Cues

There are a few nervous body language cues you want to avoid doing when working with investors and clients. You also want to be aware of these in the people you are speaking with. If you see someone do these nervous gestures, pause and go into further explanation mode as you might have lost them. The most common nervous body language cues are:

  • Wringing Hands
  • Touching the Suprasternal Notch (the indent at the base of your neck)
  • Cracking Knuckles
  • Rubbing Arms or Hands
  • Biting Our Lips

3. The Triple Nod

Use the power of the triple nod. Studies have shown that people will speak 3 to 4 times longer if you do three slow nods in a row when they have finished speaking. It’s like a nonverbal … So, when someone finishes their statement, look them in the eye and nod three times as if to say, “keep going.” They often will continue and you end up having a much deeper conversation. This is especially important for building rapport with investors or prospective clients.

4. It’s All About the Torso

Keep your toes pointed towards the person speaking. I know this seems silly but our brains pick up on people’s foot direction and use it to gauge interest. As you are listening to someone, you can make them feel valued by keeping your toes and torso pointed at them as they speak. It’s kind of like nonverbally telling them, “I’m with you! I hear you! Keep going!” And that is the best compliment you can give someone. When at networking events this will help people remember you and drum up business.

5. Carry One Bag

Nonverbal communication goes beyond the body into colors we wear, clothes and accessories. One set of research has found that people who carry more than one thing–like a purse and a briefcase or a briefcase and a coat are perceived to be less organized and more forgetful. So, before going into a meeting or event be sure to consolidate your bags, leave coats and extra things in the car or give your coat to the receptionist to hang so you do not have to carry it in with you.

These are small, but powerful tips. I hope you will use them.

Customer Relations:

  • Pitching
  • Building Rapport
  • Successful Selling
  • Winning Client Relations
  • Customer Validation

Your Nonverbal Brand:

  • Effective Networking
  • Impactful Elevator Pitching
  • Building Your Online Presence

Building Your Business Team

  • Lie Detection
  • Hiring
  • Finding Great Partners
  • Connecting with Colleagues
  • Leadership
  • Management

High Pressure Business Situations

  • Fundraising
  • Investor Pitching
  • Public Speaking
  • Negotiations

Want to dig deeper into the science of entrepreneurial success? Check out our book Captivate!

Ever wonder what makes people tick? captivate, captivate book, vanessa van edwardsWant to know the hidden forces that drive our behavior? In Vanessa Van Edwards new book Captivate, she explains a simple blueprint for hacking human behavior. In this science packed, anti-boring guide you will learn:

  • The formula for fascinating conversation
  • How to walk into a room full of strangers and make a killer first impression
  • What to do to increase your impact and income using people skills
  • Our strategy for hacking the people code–we call it the matrix (Keanu Reeves not included with each book sale)
  • The art and science of understanding people

Learn the new–science based way for winning friends and influencing people.

buy captivate on amazon

All Rights Reserved + COPYRIGHT 2014 Science of People, LLC

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & lead investigator at her human behavior research lab, Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: Use Science to Succeed with People was chosen by Apple as one of the most anticipated books of 2017. She writes a monthly Science of Success column for Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post. As a professional people watcher her unique work has been featured in CNN, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Inc, Business Insider and more. Vanessa leads innovative soft skills trainings for Fortune 500 companies including Google, Dove, Facebook, Intel, MillerCoors and American Express.


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