More than 50% of communication involves your body language and that staggering statistic means that your body language plays a key role in how your audience perceives you. Things like gestures, facial expressions, and mannerisms can have an immense effect when interacting with an individual or a crowd. From pitches to board meetings, you have the ability to display confidence, commitment, and credibility through your body language, even more than you might realize. Similarly, your body language can negatively impact your communication and cause your entire message to be lost. The fact is, your body language is important and its either working for or against you. Below are a few body language “no-no’s” that might be negatively impacting your presentation.
Poor Stance or Posture
The way you hold yourself will let audiences get a sense of your self-worth. If you slump your shoulders or cave in your chest this immediately cues the audience that you lack confidence and are unsure of yourself. Well, if you aren’t sure of yourself, why should the audience be? Pay attention to your posture and make it a point to stand tall with your shoulders back. This will exude confidence and the audience will see you as a credible and believable source.
Avoiding Eye Contact
We have all witnessed this body language “no-no” a time or two. The nervous speaker who talks to the floor and stares down at the notes, the PowerPoint guru who talks to the screen rather than the audience, or the speaker who looks up at the ceiling and avoids the crowd altogether all have this in common: they avoid eye contact. Trust is a speaker’s most valuable commodity and that begins with good eye contact.
This kind of body language comes in various forms: standing with arms crossed, holding your hands down in front of you, rubbing your hands while speaking, fidgeting with your fingers, or pacing back and forth. All of these gestures create a barrier between you and your audience. Instead of connecting with your audience, they end up distracted by these uncomfortable movements. Instead, let your arms fall to your side and only use your hands when you are making a gesture that amplifies or supports what you are saying.
Standing in One Place
Have you ever been to a presentation where the speaker stood behind the podium the entire time? If so, it was probably difficult for you to really engage with the speaker. It was almost as if they were afraid to leave their safe spot. The podium is a comfort for many speakers because its a place to put your notes and a place to rest your hands. But getting too comfortable behind the podium can cause your audience to lose interest. Make use of your space and move around in order to engage with your listeners. If you stand in a different spot for each point you make, your audience will be able to retain these points more easily.