strong impression

More than what you say: The secret to effective nonverbal communication

How well do you communicate with others? Are you giving them the right impression? Remember, communication isn’t just about what you say. Various other forms of communication influence how others perceive you, including your facial expressions, body language and what you wear. Making a strong impression is essential in the workplace, especially if you are meeting someone for the first time or attending a job interview.

So, what are the different types of nonverbal communication, and how can you improve your skills?

Types of non-verbal communication

According to Seek and Indeed, there are various forms of non-verbal communication.

Facial expressions

Facial expressions are one of the most common types of non-verbal communication. They include the movement of your eyes, mouth and facial muscles. Your facial expression can provide insight into how you are feeling. For example, it can illustrate whether you are engaged or interested in the conversation.

Body language

Body language refers to our movements when communicating, which show our feelings and emotions. Poor body language can convey unintended messages.  For example, slouching or crossing your arms will make it look like you are disinterested in a conversation.

Eye contact

Eye contact plays a crucial role in how others perceive you. Looking at the person speaking to you illustrates your interest and engagement in the conversation. It also helps improve your understanding and lets you pick up nonverbal cues. If you don’t make eye contact, others may think you are dishonest or uninterested in the conversation.

Tone of voice

Your tone of voice can significantly affect how your message comes across. Your volume, inflection, timing and pace can communicate different meanings. Try to maintain a consistent volume and speed of speech and avoid using filler words like “um…” and “ah…”.


Touch can convey a message during conversation. For example, it can often illustrate support or care for another person. However, be aware that some people may feel uncomfortable if they are touched during conversation.


You should look tidy, clean and presentable when first meeting someone. Try to adhere to dress codes where possible. In general, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. It’s best to dress formally for job interviews, even if the workplace has a casual dress code.


How to improve non-verbal communication

Seek and Indeed provide tips on how to improve your non-verbal communication.

Build self-awareness

Self-awareness is critical to improving your non-verbal communication. Be aware of your responses to situations and thoughts, and be intentional about how you present yourself.

Active listening

When listening to others, ensure you take in what they say rather than just waiting for them to finish so you can respond. Minimise distractions whenever possible. You should consciously try not to interrupt others when they are speaking. Wait until they have paused for a few seconds before speaking.

Seek feedback

An excellent way to improve your non-verbal communication skills is to ask for feedback. This is especially important if you feel you handled a situation poorly or can’t understand why a person reacted the way they did. For example, ask a person why they responded the way they did.

Watch how others communicate non-verbally

You can learn a lot by observing others’ non-verbal communication. If others use facial expressions or body language you find effective, replicate it. Doing so will help you communicate more effectively in the future.

business coworkers shaking hands meeting

Mastering non-verbal communication requires time and effort.

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