Delivering a great presentation involves more than creating an outline and putting together a dynamic PowerPoint. While those certainly play an important role, there is another element that is often overlooked and that’s body language. The most important visual you can show an audience is yourself, and your body language can have a significant impact on the way your audience perceives you and the outcome of your presentation. Therefore, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of body language and its role in your presentation.
Body language refers to the way your body communicates without the use of words and it consists of hand gestures, facial expressions, stance, and posture. The way you use your body can demonstrate confidence, nervousness, anger, frustration, or excitement. Though it is often subconscious, our body language is what the audience is seeing so if you want to get the right message across to your audience, you must be mindful of your body language. Before your next presentation, consider the following tips for using body language in order to deliver a more powerful presentation.
Make Eye Contact
One mistake presenters often make is staring at the back of the room. The problem is that avoiding eye contact takes away from your authenticity and it prevents the audience from engaging with you. In any presentation, it is important to make eye contact with your audience. Obviously, you can’t look at every single person, but you can scan the audience and may eye contact with individuals throughout your presentation. When you look at someone, be sure to hold the gaze for a few seconds. Good eye contact helps you assess how your audience is perceiving your message and it also makes you look far more credible and trustworthy.
Pay Attention to Your Facial Expressions
Your facial expressions are a critical component of becoming an expressive speaker. The movements of your eyes, mouth, and facial muscles can build a connection with your audience. Your facial expressions can convey a variety of emotions and can demonstrate your passion for the subject. Don’t be afraid to smile and use your facial expressions to build a trusting relationship with your audience.
Be Mindful of Hand Gestures
Many presenters feel nervous speaking in front of an audience and they feel anxious about what to do with their hands. As a result, they might put their hands in their pockets or behind their back. Unfortunately, this gives off the impression that you are nervous and it can impact your credibility right from the start. You should absolutely use your hands and avoid placing them on your hips or folded across your chest. Rather, your hands should be used to emphasize your points, to express emotion, or to engage your audience. Avoid nervous gestures such as fidgeting with your pockets, glasses, hair, or papers, as this is quite distracting to an audience. Instead, let your hands fall comfortably to the side and use them as necessary to demonstrate your key points.
Use the Space Effectively
When you are presenting in front of an audience, don’t be afraid to use the space. Standing in one place behind a podium can get quite boring for an audience. Speakers who walk around and utilize their space are far more engaging. Controlled walking can add to the effectiveness of your message. Be careful not to pace back and forth, but don’t be afraid to claim your space and use it to connect with your audience.
Stand Up Straight
Your posture says a lot about your confidence. Good posture gives the impression of authority and confidence, so be sure and stand up straight and tall. Avoid slouching your shoulders and leaning on a podium, and stand with a straight open body with your arms relaxed by your side.