More than half of your impact as a speaker depends upon your body language. When all eyes are on you, your facial expressions, stance, and gestures become increasingly important. When giving a presentation, strong, positive body language becomes a powerful tool for helping you build credibility, express your emotions, and connect with your audience. Effective body language supports the message and conveys a strong image of the presenter. There is no shortage of advice on things you should and shouldn’t do when presenting and this can sometimes lead people to appear as puppets trying to pull on too many strings. For a strong, compelling, and authentic presentation, follow these 4 essential body language tips.
- Smile Genuinely
Never underestimate the power of a smile. Whenever you stand in front of an audience there should always be an opportunity to share something “happy.” Even if you are delivering a business presentation loaded with stats and information or you are discussing a sad topic, look for that silver lining moment or find a way to infuse some happiness into your presentation. When you flash a genuine smile at your audience, they immediately feel a sense of warmth and competence. Your audience will appreciate the sincerity of a smile and it will earn you instant credibility.
- Do Use Your Hands
When giving a presentation, your hands do not belong in your pockets, on your hips, or folded across your chest. These gestures immediately show defensiveness or nervousness, both of which will cost you your credibility as a speaker. Instead, use them to help emphasize a point, express emotion, or engage your audience. For example, if you are making a big point open your arms wide. Try moving around the stage to maximize your impact on different parts of the audience. If your hands remain in one place or your fail to open them toward your audience, they will not be open to your ideas.
- Make Eye Contact
We have all sat through a presentation where the speaker looked down throughout the entire presentation as they read from their notes. Not only are you left with the feeling that they are incompetent, but there is a complete lack of audience engagement. Nothing directly connects you to your audience like eye contact. Effective presenters engage one person at a time, focusing long enough to complete an entire phrase or thought. This level of focus can rivet the audience and draw them in to boost their attention. Avoid looking down or constantly scanning the room. Instead, use your eyes to engage with your audience and establish a connection.
- Keep a Firm Stance
How you stand in front of an audience makes an impression before you ever even open your mouth. Your stance tells the audience if you are happy, nervous, confident, or uncomfortable. A slouched stance says that you are bored or disinterested but a balanced stance shows confidence and eagerness. It is also good to move around the stage in order to engage your audience, but avoid constant motion as this can be a distraction. In your moments of stillness, keep your feet pointing straight ahead and lean in slightly toward your audience. A firm stance will project confidence and ease and will engage your listeners.