Just how important is body language in public speaking and presenting?
What you say is of paramount importance.
Disregard to the way you say it can undermine and destroy every good intention you have.
Most presenters understand the need to project confident, open body language when delivering an important message.
There’s a lot more you can do, other than to stand tall, smile and uncross your arms.
I read an interesting blog this morning entitled ‘The Simple Little Trick That Will Make Audiences Trust You’.
It contains some sound advice although the title concerned me a little.
Trust isn’t something you should have to ‘trick’ your audience into.
If you have it within you to give, they will feel it
Here are a few tips you don’t hear every day how your body language can help you to connect with your audience.
1) Take a jump
I like to be grounded before I begin any important presentation.
That means being fully present, stable and poised ready for action.
Jumping up and down before you present can help to to connect with the ground.
How can you connect with your audience if you haven’t connected with yourself first?
How can you connect with yourself when you haven’t connect with the very ground you are standing on?
Take a jump
Don’t wait until you are already in front of the audience.
They may think you’re a little crazy.
It’s something you do several times before you take to the platform. You can do it on the platform before they arrive, if you have the opportunity.
– Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms relaxed by your side
– Your neck and head are facing forward
– Bend your knees and jump as high as you can
As you land back on your feet take a few moments to notice just how good it feels to be back on your feet.
Stable and grounded with a renewed sense of energy
If you can’t do it just before you speak, do so whenever you can before-hand and take the feeling with you.
2) Walk on fire
For my 40th birthday I flew over to New Jersey to do the ‘fire walk’ with Tony Robbins.
My wife thought I was going through a mid-life crisis. I probably was but I learned an immensely valuable life lesson which also helped me enormously when speaking in public.
For those of you who don’t know the ‘fire walk’ is where you walk over fifteen feet of burning coals in your bare feet.
I learned 3 things that helped me to succeed
I now coach these in our presentation skills workshops.
Where I consciously choose to focus my attention in any given moment will determine the way I think, feel and move.
In other words, if my focus was on the heat from the coals it’s unlikely I’d have completed the walk unscathed.
What was far more empowering was to focus walking on a bed of cool moss.
I focused my attention on striding gracefully across the finish line. The leaping into the air with a huge smile on my face as I high fived Tony Robbins in awe of my success.
Imagine what would have happened if half way across the coals I found myself saying:
– “I’ll never do it”
– “I’m going to make such a fool of myself”
– “I’m going to burn”
I probably wouldn’t have gotten very far
Focusing on the idea that I was walking across a bed of cool moss, my mantra as I was walking across the coals was, ‘cool moss…cool moss’; followed by ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes’.
As silly as it may sound as the old saying goes, ‘don’t knock it until you’ve tried it‘ because it works.
My job in those few moments was to look ahead and slightly upwards walking straight and at a normal pace.
Holding my body in a strong, confident and purposeful stance was key to supporting my focus It also helped the language I used in my internal dialogue and therefore my results.
The next time you’re about to present ask yourself whether what you are focused on, telling yourself and how you are holding your body is helping or hindering you.
Warning & Disclaimer: Fire walking is potentially extremely dangerous and under no circumstances should you try this activity without the supervision of a fully qualified and registered instructor.
3) Talk to your face
Your facial expressions must match the words that are coming out of your mouth when you are present.
Your audience can see every smile, smirk and grimace. They depend on your expressions to find meaning in your words.
If you are telling your audience how excited or passionate you feel about the topic you are presenting but your face tells a different story, guess which they will believe.
Our face has its own body language
When it comes to presenting, our face is often forgotten.
It’s the last thing we tell to look confident, excited or happy.
If there’s any incongruence between what your face is telling your audience against the words you are using, they will believe the face every time.
Tell your face what you’re feeling and want your audience to feel too and then feel it
Holding an emotional word in your head with consciousness and clarity your body language will change, including your face.
If you are feeling nervous don’t tell your face that, tell it you are excited.
4) Touch everything
Nothing exudes more confidence than ownership.
Whether you are speaking at a conference or in a meeting room, if you don’t own the space your audience will.
Even though none of it may be yours, you get to own all of it simply by touching it.
If you’re using PowerPoint and want to highlight something on the screen reach up and touch it, don’t just point to it.
If there’s a flip chart in the room move it to a place that works best for you and your audience.
In fact ,don’t just move it, stroke it and show them it’s yours.
Whatever else is in the room make sure you let them know it’s yours too.
If you need help with 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 iStock.com