Whether you’re presenting at work or speaking in front of a more public audience, your body language matters. It’s one of the first things people notice when they look at you. Posture, eye contact, facial expression and even how much you pace or stand still can have a powerful impact on how you come across. Nonverbal communication is just as important as spoken words. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at simple tips for using body language to boost your public speaking performance.
Your posture should convey confidence and openness. When standing, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides or clasped in front of you. If sitting, sit upright without slouching or leaning forward too much. This will give the impression that you are confident and comfortable in the space and ensure that your message is heard clearly. Try to keep your shoulders back. Regarding body language, good posture can also make you feel more confident on stage.
If you cannot stand or sit straight up due to a disability, your power can come from your voice and conviction alone. Your speech is ultimately about the message and its value to the audience, so don’t worry if you can’t strike a power pose. There are multiple ways to show power, not the least of which is giving a solid presentation that informs and challenges the audience’s perspectives constructively.
You can also incorporate movement in other ways, like turning your back to the audience to drive home a point (if it makes sense within the context of your speech). Moving around, controlling your breathing, and being mindful of your hand gestures are all ways to incorporate body language into your talk.
Eye Contact and Facial Expressions
This isn’t as make or break as many people make it seem IF the structure, flow and overall contents of your speech serve the needs of your audience. Why? Because public speaking is about the message, not the messenger.
However, it is worth mentioning that eye contact can be a strategic use of body language and convey power and authority. Making eye contact with people in your audience will make them feel engaged with what you’re saying and will help you create a connection with them. Try to make eye contact for several seconds before moving on to the next person. This shows your audience that their presence is appreciated and their opinions matter. Be mindful of your facial expressions when locking eyes with people. You don’t want to scare them. Smile if it’s appropriate, and intentionally move from person to person. This is good body language.
Voice Volume and Speaking Speed
The volume of your voice is just as important as the words themselves when it comes to delivering an effective presentation. Speak loud enough so everyone in the room can hear you clearly, but not so loud that it becomes uncomfortable for everyone involved. You should also try to vary the pitch of your voice throughout the presentation; this will keep things interesting for those listening and make sure they stay engaged with what you’re saying.
Practice varying your voice to enhance the emotions of your speech or presentation. This can also be helpful if you are presenting something heavy (like a serious story) and must evoke certain feelings from the audience to make your point. Some people suggest avoiding monotone presentations because they come across as boring. Still, if you know your content inside and out and have practiced it enough to feel confident, a monotone delivery of certain sections can be effective.
Don’t rush through your talk, either. You don’t want to exhaust the audience’s ability to keep up with you by speaking too quickly. Pay attention to your volume and speed just as much as your public speaking body language.
When combined with a well-written and well-rehearsed speech, strategic body language can greatly improve your public speaking performance. It can help ensure that people pay attention to what you’re saying rather than zoning out halfway through it. By making eye contact, maintaining good posture and varying the volume of your voice throughout the presentation, you can win over your audience. We usually don’t talk about body language that much over at Phenomenal Speeches because we have seen repeated proof that a well-structured message can trump “poor” body language. However, why not combine the best of both worlds and let your audience benefit from being a well-rounded speaker who has mastered their content and style?
With these tips in mind, any business leader can become an effective public speaker who exudes confidence and charisma during every single presentation they give! Want more tips? Subscribe to our blog!