5 simple body language tips for presenters


woman standing in different positions

There are a great many body language tips we can offer presenters.

This article shares 5 of the simple ones.

If there’s a mismatch between what we are saying and how we are saying it, the impact of the words we use is significantly diminished.

People won’t trust what you say

In other words, when it comes to the way people feel about our message, what we say and how we say it both verbally and non-verbally are critically important. In fact, we often don’t have to utter a word, our body is still giving us away.

The way we move our arms, heads, the way we stand, use our face and make eye contact are constantly sending messages.

How we verbally express what we want to say is refferred to as body language.

What is it?

Each of us uses our entire body as well as our vocal range to communicate.

It’s a completely innate and largely unconscious process. 

I actually believe that much of the way we naturally express ourselves may be genetic.

Let me explain.

A friend of mine recently met his own paternal son for the first time in 26 years.

The last time he saw him, his son was 2 years old

He hadn’t spent any time with his son as he was growing.

When they were in a room together for the first time in over a quarter of a century, the similarities in the way they used body language to communicate was quite astonishing. In fact, it was so identical that had you not known the circumstances, you would have believed they had shared their whole lives together.

I’ve seen several examples of this before

We each have our own inherent way of expressing ourselves, some of which is learned and much of which is gifted to us at birth. 

Most of us are blissfully unaware of exactly what that non-verbal communication looks and feels like to others.

The Mindful Presenter is aware

They smile

Some business presenters leave their personalities at their desks when they step up to present.

It’s more common than you’d imagine

Many presenters are so focused on remembering their content and ‘getting it right’, they simply forget to smile. Unfortunately, this detracts from our message as we leave our audience with a memory of a stern expression. This often signals that we are not really enjoying the experience ourselves so we give them permission not to either.

When we smile we help our audience to relax

They can see we are comfortable and confident with what we have to say and we actually like being there.

Audiences like presenters who are friendly, warm, kind and supportive. The most natural way to convey those attributes, is to smile.

There is very little that is more endearing that a genuine smile.

They open up

Many presenters struggle to know exactly what to do with their hands while they are speaking.

Some end up in their pockets, behind their backs or by their side.

Closed postures and minimal or constricted movements often make a presenter seem insecure.

Avoid stances such as standing with your legs or arms crossed and hiding your arms. Instead use large bold hand gestures to convey confidence and openness.

Open up your gestures as though you were having a conversation with a friend.

Film yourself as you practice your presentation. Play it back to yourself on mute, with your entire focus on your movement and gestures.

They enter gracefully

Before you step up to speak, take a few slow deep breaths.

With your held high and a straight, smooth and relaxed posture, slowly make your way to the centre of the platform.

Don’t make the mistake that many presenters do which is to begin speaking the moment they start walking.

Instead, when you reach the front, stop, smile and glance around the room gently. Pause for just two or three seconds before you speak.

Your poise and confidence will relax the audience and reassure them that you are comfortable being there and are in control.

They look at them

If you’ve ever had a conversation with someone who hasn’t maintained good eye contact with you I’m pretty certain you’d have left the exchange feeling quite uncomfortable.

It may appear difficult to maintain eye contact with a large audience but the fact is, they will feel equally uncomfortable if you don’t.

The trick is to focus your attention on individuals and small groups around the room.

Holding your attention on them for a short while before moving on.

Just as it doesn’t serve you well to avoid eye contact, you will also lose trust if you continually scan the audience. Hold your focus for a few moments.

They own the floor

I often hear presentation trainers and coaches tell their clients to stand still while presenting.

At Mindful Presenter we think that’s generally bad advice

Movement represents life and energy and most audiences like to see both in a speaker.

Movement with purpose can help you to animate your message, express the emotion of a story and help you to bring your idea to life.

Movement should support and enhance your message and not be used as part of your delivery because you are anxious or need the exercise.

If you are speaking about the future take a step forward into the future.

If you are referring to the past, step into the past.

If you are making 3 points, step into each point to give them there own position and focus.

The mindful presenter doesn’t take their body language for granted, they know that their body speaks volumes when they present. 

If you need helpwith your body language when presenting:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image: Courtesy of flickr.com


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