How to Use Body Language to Improve Your Public Speaking?

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Body language plays an important part in communicating and in public speaking. Effective body language supports the message and projects a strong image of the presenter. Audiences respond best to presenters whose bodies are alive and energetic. A good exa

Body language plays an important part in communicating and in public speaking. Effective body language supports the message and projects a strong image of the presenter. Audiences respond best to presenters whose bodies are alive and energetic. A good example of public presenter may be Oprah Winfrey who is my favourite and I have learned many body postures and speaking tips from her. This article offers only few tips which can help you learn and improve your body language for public speaking. There are more tips and techniques which you can learn by attending seminars or trainings to improve your public speaking and presentation skills.

Research has shown that when we communicate with others, only 7% of our feelings are conveyed with words, 38% of what we communicate is through our tone of voice and an amazing 55% is by using body language. Body language is what we “say” to one another without the use of words.

This non-verbal communication can come in several forms: body position, eye contact, facial expressions, physical appearance, touch and space. Body language is important. Standing, walking or moving about with appropriate hand gesture or facial expression is preferred to sitting down or standing still with head down and reading from a prepared speech.

Speak with conviction as if you really believe in what you are saying. Persuade your audience effectively.

Maintain sincere eye contact with your audience. Use the 3-second method, e.g. look straight into the eyes of a person in the audience for 3 seconds at a time. Have direct eye contact with a number of people in the audience, and every now and then glance at the whole audience while speaking. Use your eye contact to make everyone in your audience feel involved.

Speak to your audience, listen to their questions, respond to their reactions, adjust and adapt. If what you have prepared is obviously not getting across to your audience, change your strategy mid-stream if you are well prepared to do so. Remember that communication is the key to a successful presentation. If you are short of time, know what can be safely left out. If you have extra time, know what could be effectively added. Always be prepared for the unexpected.                                                             

Pause. Allow yourself and your audience a little time to reflect and think. Don't race through your presentation and leave your audience, as well as yourself, feeling out of breath.Here are some tips on body language for conveying the right message while public speaking:

More tips:

  • Arms Open. This is good indicator of someone who is relaxed and not tense. Even if you are anxious, practice speaking with arms at your sides to convey a calm attitude.
  • Hands. Have your hands wide open and apart. This show sincerity and honesty. Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Also avoid pointing, clenched fists and hands on your hips.
  • Head and Eyes. Keep your head up and look at your audience.
  • Left and Right. Look to the left and right and down the centre of the room. This will tell the whole audience that they are all included in the speech.
  • Lectern. If you must use a lectern don’t “hug” or “cling” to it. Lecterns are great for presenting formality and authority. Put your notes on it, (if you have any,) not your elbows.
  • Movement.. Use the three step rule. If you move towards one side of the room, take three steps then stop. It is distracting if you constantly move one step one way, one step the other. Don’t make gestures too quickly. The larger the crowd, the larger and slower the gestures.
  • Know when to STOP talking. Use a timer or the microwave oven clock to time your presentation when preparing it at home.
  • When presenting you may have lots of energy to release. Avoid the urge to move around too much. This can become distracting. Arm and leg movements should be kept to a minimum.
  • Getting off the Stage. Sometimes speakers like to get off the stage and go right into the crowd. This is a great way to get connected with the audience. It also sends the message that I really know what I am talking about because I don’t need any notes or visuals. This is great but remember, (especially in large rooms,) that when you get off the stage there may be many people who cannot see you. It is fine if your image is being projected on a large screen. Just inform the audio/ visual team beforehand. Or else they’ll be scrambling to find you when you jump off stage.
  • By keeping aware of the body language of those around you, your ability to assess their message will be greatly increased. The listener’s body language will help you monitor your delivery of an idea or message. One additional thing to remember. Your body language gives you an indication of your motives and meanings--be sure to monitor your own non-verbal cues.

Tips source: 'Fearless Public'

YouTube video: Use body language in successful public speaking with tips from an award-winning speaker in this free communication video

More studies:

* Presentation Tips for Public Speaking

 * Presentation Skills: Body Language


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