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The Ultimate Ranking of the 40 Best Indie Movies of All Time

The Ultimate Ranking of the 40 Best Indie Movies of All Time

There are blockbusters and then there are indie films which work with a limited budget and are produced independently.

But let me tell you a secret: Indie films are often the better movies.

Enjoy my ranking of the 40 world’s best indie movies:

1. American Beauty

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    “I don’t think that there’s anything worse than being ordinary.” —Angela

    American Beauty was one of the many fantastic movies of the 90s. Director Sam Mendes captures the struggles of Lester Burnham, a father caught in a serious midlife crisis, his daughter Jane, who finds love for the first time, and her beautiful yet lonely best friend Angela, played by the stunning Mena Suvari. When everything falls apart, the characters and the watchers start to find beauty in the little things.

    2. The Breakfast Club

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      “When you grow up, your heart dies.” —Allison

      The Breakfast Club is an 80s classic. Five high school students who couldn’t be more different have to spend a Saturday detention session together. During this time they slowly find that apart from all their differences, they can connect on a deeper level. All five actors do a great job by first giving a cliché version of their characters and then turning them into human beings. Everyone—no matter what age—can learn something from these teenagers.

      3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

        “We accept the love we think we deserve.” —Charlie

        Based on a novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows emotional unstable Charlie through his first high school year. He soon becomes friends with a pretty girl named Sam and her gay half-brother Patrick. They teach Charlie that it’s okay to enjoy life and to forget your troubles for a while. This book adaption is starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, and not only will you realize that we all struggle with life once in a while, you will also learn a lot about music and real friendship.

        4. Factory Girl

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          “Divorced as many times as she married, she leaves only good wishes behind.” —Edie

          This indie film shows the life of fashion icon and Andy Warhol’s muse Edie Sedgwick. Edie travels to New York and leads a turbulent life in Warhol’s famous factory where art, love and lust play hand-in-hand. The movie captures Edie’s sparkling spirit and her tragic downfall in a way that will keep you on your toes until the very last minute.

          5. The Blair Witch Project

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            “It’s not the same on film, is it? I mean, you know it’s real but it’s like looking through the lens gives you some sort of protection from what’s on the other side.” —Joshua

            This horror movie terrifies its watchers because of the amateur filming which makes it seem like a real story. Three young movie makers set out into the woods to produce a documentation of the myth of the Blair Witch. Little do they know that the legend is still alive and waiting for its next victims. If you’re a friend of breathtaking and nightmare-producing movies, The Blair Witch Project by directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez is your way to go.

            6. Ramen Girl

              “Somewhere along the way, I just forgot what I wanted to do with my life.” —Abby

              In one of the last movies of the late Brittany Murphy, she portrays Abby who follows her boyfriend to Tokyo just to get dumped. In her crisis, Ally realizes that she has long given up going after her own dreams and decides to set herself a new goal: she wants to become a ramen cook. In this indie film by Robert Allen Ackerman. you can learn a lot about the Japanese culinary and spiritual world and see how it’s sometimes in your hardest times where you find your true strength.

              7. Ellie Parker

                “I remember when the future was a promise, now it’s like a threat.” —Ellie

                This is a widely un-known little independent movie by Scott Coffey staring Naomi Watts. As a young wannabe actress in LA, Ellie has to deal with many job rejections and a disastrous love life. The movie portrays LA and the movie industry as a tough business which will make even the biggest blockbuster fans see their stars in a different way.

                8. Pulp Fiction

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                  “Play with matches, you get burned.” —Vincent

                  This movie is a cult film. In Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman create a funny and exciting gangster comedy. The movie has many long dialogues, but Tarantino makes it work and ties all the different plot lines together for a spectacular finale. Seriously, if you have never watched this movie, do it now.

                  9. The Boat That Rocked

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                    “Nothing important dies tonight, just a few ugly guys on a crappy ship. The only sadness tonight is that, in future years, there’ll be so many fantastic songs that it will not be our privilege to play. But, believe you me, they will still be written, they will still be sung and they will be the wonder of the world.”  —The Count

                    This movie is guaranteed to make you laugh. Young Carl gets sent by his mother to live on a boat which hosts a pirate radio station. In the 60s, Rock’n’Roll was still frowned upon in Great Britain, which is why rock stations had to send from a secret frequency. On the Rock Boat live the funniest and craziest radio speakers who know how a lot about music and about having a good time.

                    10. Secretary

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                      “Who’s to say that love needs to be soft and gentle?!” —Dr. Twardon

                      This is a movie for those of you who like it sexy. When Lee starts her new job as a secretary, little does she know that her boss will soon not only be interested in her but also has some rather exquisite tastes in sexual adventures. Steven Shainberg’s erotic romance combines pleasure and pain in a classy way.

                      11. Requiem for a Dream

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                        “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world. You’re my dream.” —Harry

                        This famous indie film stars Jared Leto as a handsome but broken drug addict. Not only he but also his girlfriend, his best friend and his mother are caught in the downward spiral that is drug abuse. Requiem for a dream is a tough and often ugly but completely true movie. It will leave you with the need of never doing drugs.

                        12. Thirteen

                          “If everybody married someone from a different race, then in one generation there would be no prejudice.” —Tracy

                          Thirteen shows the life of normal but unhappy teenage girl, Tracy. When she meets the adventurous Evie, everything changes. For the first time in her life she is popular and cool and has fun. But her new lifestyle comes at a cost that will soon be to much for Tracy to pay.

                          13. Donnie Darko

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                            “Some people are just born with tragedy in their blood.” —Gretchen

                            Donnie Darko is a classic which combines romance, growing up and mystery. This indie film will make you want to watch it again and again, which is what you have to do in order to make sense of all the ambiguous events and plot twists of this movie.

                            14. The Virgin Suicides

                              “Obviously, Doctor… you’ve never been a thirteen-year-old girl.” —Cecelia

                              Based on a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides director Sophia Coppola made this story into a movie in 1999. The Lisbon daughters were raised as good catholic girls who were never allowed to live their lives like other teenagers do. The situation escalates when 14-year-old Lux stays away a whole night. The sisters are forbidden to leave the house and become more and more depressed until they make a tragic decision.

                              15. The Runaways

                                “No guys, man. I want to start an all-girls rock band.” —Joan

                                This 2010 american movie tells the story of the 80s girl-rock-band the Runaways. From fame, over music to drugs—the movie has everything a rock film should have. Kristen Stewart gives a great performance as rock-legend Joan Jett who became famous with her hit “I love Rock’n’Roll.”

                                16. Poison Ivy

                                  “She might have been even more alone than I was.” —Silvie

                                  One of Drew Barrymore’s many great movies tells the story of nice teenage girl Silvie. As soon as the wild girl Ivy enters her life, nothing is calm anymore but she finds herself caught in one big adventure.

                                  17. 500 Days of Summer

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                                    “People don’t realize this. But loneliness is underrated.” —Tom

                                    In this romantic comedy, Joseph-Gorden Levitt and Zoey Dechanel show a great performance. As Summer and Tom, they fall in love and spend a romantic few months together until things start to fall apart. Through this movie you can learn a lot about relationships as well as about commitment issues.

                                    18. Moonrise Kingdom

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                                      “I love you but you don’t know what you’re talking about.” —Sam

                                      At first sight you might think that Moonrise Kingdom is a children’s movie but I promise if you watch it you can learn a lot no matter how old you are. The movie shows the adventures at a scout summer camp and the beautiful friendship between Sam and Suzy.

                                      19. Run Lola Run

                                        “Man … probably the most mysterious specious on our planet.” —Narrator

                                        This is a fast independent movie which shows different possible versions of how the story might take place which all involve a lot of running. Run Lola Run is a German movie by director Tom Tyker which has become a must-watch for many film lovers.

                                        20. Being John Malkovitch

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                                          “Nobody’s looking for a puppeteer in today’s wintry economic climate.” —Craig

                                          This movie combines fantasy, comedy and drama while telling the crazy story of its unemployed anti-hero Craig. The plot line is well-written and the cast including John Cusack and Cameron Diaz all do a fantastic job.

                                          21. Reservoir Dogs

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                                            “It’s amusing to me, to torture a cop.” —Mr. Blonde

                                            Reservoir Dogs is another great Quentin Tarantino film featuring a crime story and many interesting dialogues. It is very popular and was even named “Greatest independent film of all time” by Empire magazine.

                                            22. Memento

                                            memento

                                              “I have to believe in a world outside my own mind.” —Leonard

                                              This psycho thriller is very popular in the independent film scene. Memento is a little disturbing but fascinating. Half of the movie is black-and-white and shown chronologically, while the other half is colored and shown in reverse order. In the end, both plot lines are combined.

                                              23. The Meaning of Life

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                                                “Hindu, Taoist, Mormon spill theirs just anywhere, But God loves those who treat their semen with more care.” —Mum

                                                In this film, once again Monty Python captures the world in an honest though slightly confusing way. If you’re hoping to find answers to all of life’s big questions in this film, I have to disappoint you. But what you will find are a lot of laughter and sarcasm and a sense of the fact that even if life can be cruel, you should never take it too seriously.

                                                24. Brokeback Mountain

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                                                  “I wish I knew how to quit you.” -—Jack

                                                  This cult film is one of the first gay romances which is neither distasteful nor full of cliches. It tells the love story of Ennis and Jack, played by Heath Ledger and Jack Gyllenhaal, who flee to the lonely Brokeback Mountain because it’s the only place where they can celebrate their love.

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                                                  25. No Country for Old Men

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                                                    “A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say: ‘O.K., I’ll be part of this world.'” —Sherrif Ed

                                                    This indie film is a western crime drama. The antagonist Anton is a serial murderer with mental issues. The conflicts between him and protagonist Sherrif Ed Tom Bell make the movie interesting. One thing you’ll learn from this movie is that nothing ever comes as you expect.

                                                    26. Before Sunrise

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                                                      “If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed, but…who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt.” —Celine

                                                      Jesse and Celine meet each other on a train ride and decide to spend the night together in Vienna. They have a fun, crazy and romantic night but then have to go back to their own lives.

                                                      27. Before Sunset

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                                                        “Now I’m older and my problems are deeper, but I’m more equipped to handle them.” —Jesse

                                                        Also the second part of the heartbreaking love story is an ode to following your guts. Celine and Jesse meet each other for the first time in nine years and this time spend a day in Paris.

                                                        28. Juno

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                                                          “Can’t we just like kick this old school? You know, like I stick the baby in a basket, send it your way, like Moses and the reeds?” —Juno

                                                          This movie transforms the hard topic of teenage pregnancy into a funny and sweet experience. Regardless of the tough topic of the film, it leaves you with a warm feeling.

                                                          29. Happiness

                                                          HAPPINESS

                                                            “I know who you are and you are nothing.” —Allen

                                                            Despite the title, this movie shows the lives of several pretty miserable people who sooner or later find some happiness even if it’s small and unconventional. I have to warn you. This movie is only suited for people with a dark humor.

                                                            30. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

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                                                              “But had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected, nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day.” —Narrator

                                                              Also an independent movie, this film is nothing for people with weak nerves. Director Tobe Hooper’s classic slasher film is a raw and pure horror movie and ideal for a scary night with your friends.

                                                              31. Submarine

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                                                                “Sometimes I wish there was a film crew following my every move.” —Oliver

                                                                After Texas Chainsaw Massacre I recommend watching Submarine in order to calm your nerves before you go to sleep.

                                                                32. The Science of Sleep

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                                                                  “Things will turn out the way you want, if you could just stop doubting that I love you.” —Stephanie

                                                                  In this movie you can learn a lot about dreams. The main character Stephane’s dreams are so vivid that they interfere with his real life. This french fantasy story is a definite feel-good movie.

                                                                  33. Lost in Translation

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                                                                    “My Japanese is getting better. We started speaking English.” —Bob

                                                                    This film, starring Bill Murray and Scarlet Johanson, is directed by Sofia Coppola. Charlotte has travelled with her husband to Tokyo but is soon left alone by him. A romance between Charlotte and Bob starts and the watcher gets an impression of Tokyo’s exciting and sometimes hilarious atmosphere.

                                                                    34. The Usual Suspects

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                                                                      “I’m the guy that’s gonna get you. I just wanted you to know that.” —Michael

                                                                      The usual suspects is a crime thriller which shows how a bunch of elderly gangsters get along. This film is widely popular but started out as a little independent film.

                                                                      35. Life of Brian

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                                                                        “Always look on the bright side of life.” —Jesus

                                                                        This is another Monty Python cult film which features in a humorous way the life of Jesus Christ. Though this movie will make most people laugh out loud, extremly religious people would do better if they stayed far away from it.

                                                                        36. The Terminator

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                                                                          “You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve… I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have.” —Kyle

                                                                          You may not believe it but the series that made Arnold Schwatzenegger famous started as an indie film. So if you’re into machines and wars and strong guys, you should definitely try out Terminator.

                                                                          37. Little Miss Sunshine

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                                                                            “Luck is the name losers give to their own failings.” —Richard

                                                                            Here is another feel-good movie. The movie of a funny road trip is the debut film of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006. It quickly became popular.

                                                                            38. Night of the Living Dead

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                                                                              “Don’t you know what’s goin’ on out there? This is no Sunday School picnic!” —Ben

                                                                              Night of the Living Dead is a plain and good zombie movie from the 60s. While the technology wasn’t that advanced back then, it still offers many good scares.

                                                                              39. Stranger than Paradise

                                                                              stranger_than_paradise

                                                                                “I’m choking the alligator.” —Eva

                                                                                Stranger than Paradise is a comedy from the 80s which revolves around Willie, Evy and Eddie and their crazy adventures in New York.

                                                                                40. Sex, Lies, and Videotape

                                                                                  “I remember reading somewhere that men learn to love the person that they’re attracted to, and that women become more and more attracted to the person that they love.” —Graham

                                                                                  In this classic independent fill, all three aspects of the title are combined in a beautiful but also dramatic way. The movie was directed by Steven Sonderbergh and has won the Golden Palm at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival.

                                                                                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                                                                  Sunita Sukhana

                                                                                  editor, writer, student

                                                                                  The Ultimate Ranking of the 40 Best Indie Movies of All Time

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                                                                                  Last Updated on January 15, 2021

                                                                                  7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                                                                                  7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                                                                                  The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                                                                                  Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                                                                                  Posture

                                                                                  First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                                                                                  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                                                                                  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                                                                                  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                                                                                  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                                                                                  All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                                                                                  Facial Expressions

                                                                                  Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                                                                                  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                                                                                  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                                                                                  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                                                                                  If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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                                                                                  1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                                                                                  A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                                                                                  The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                                                                                  This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                                                                                  2. Relax Your Face

                                                                                  New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                                                                                  The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                                                                                  To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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                                                                                  3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                                                                                  Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                                                                                  The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                                                                                  To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                                                                                  3. Smile More

                                                                                  There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                                                                                  Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                                                                                  4. Hand Gestures

                                                                                  Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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                                                                                  It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                                                                                  5. Enhance Your Handshake

                                                                                  In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                                                                                  “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                                                                                  It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                                                                                  6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                                                                                  As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                                                                                  Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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                                                                                  Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                                                                                  Final Takeaways

                                                                                  Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                                                                                  If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                                                                                  More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                                                                                  Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

                                                                                  Reference

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