We start forming impressions of people we meet from the moment we set eyes on them. A large part of the initial impression that you create comes from your body language. Your posture, facial expression, eye contact, and gestures speak louder than the words you say. We all interpret body language all the time on a subconscious level.
The face is the most expressive part of the body. If you are feeling anxious then your facial expression may lead you to appear aloof, disapproving, or disinterested. You can break this misrepresentation by making a conscious effort to smile. Your smile is one of the strongest tools you have in meeting new people. It will help you appear warm, open, friendly, and confident.
Our eyes give clues to our emotions. A direct stare implies intensity. It may also mean romantic interest, aggression, or fear. Making very little eye contact can either convey shyness or submissiveness. The middle ground of a gaze says that you are interested, secure, and at ease.
Your hands are also very expressive. Open gestures tend to make you appear open and honest. By pointing your finger, or moving your hands closer together, you can draw emphasis to what you are saying. Used in moderation, hand gestures can make you seem enthusiastic and committed to your topic. Making too many gestures can make you appear nervous and uncontrolled. Wringing your hands or touching your sleeves, face, etc. can make you appear tense, nervous, and sometimes dishonest.
The way you hold yourself, your posture, makes a big contribution to your body language and conveys your level of self-confidence. By orienting your body towards someone, you show attentiveness. By falling away from them or leaning back, you show a lack of interest and some level of reserve. When we are feeling low in confidence and want to hide away, we hunch our shoulders and keep our heads down. When we are feeling aggressive or are trying to defend our space, we puff ourselves up. A relaxed body posture will help you to appear and feel more relaxed and confident.
Your posture gives signals about your interest in something, your openness, and attentiveness. It also gives clues as to your status within a group.
In summary, our face, eyes, hands (gestures), and posture express what is going on inside of us. They give clues to others and to us as to whether the words we say are consistent with what we are really feeling. Being aware of our body language can allow us to send a consistent message. Smiling, making eye contact, using open gestures, and using good posture can bring up our level of self confidence.