Your Body Language Speaks (Part 1)
It’s not what you’re saying: it’s how you’re saying it.
Non-verbal communication is the process of sharing cues between people. It goes hand-in-hand with public speaking. Simple things like gestures, expressions on the face, movement, stance when done right, can increase likeability, competence, trust, clarity and get your listeners to lean in to your presentation.
In fact, research tells us that 85 percent of what an audience takes away is based on our body language.
Let us look at some of the more common ways we communicate without words:
Stance or Stature
How do you stand before your audience when you’re speaking? Are you in conscious awareness of your body posture or stance? Do you allow your mood to take over your body’s posture? Remember that you only every want to show your audience what you want to show them. So don’t just plonk yourself in front with a nervous stance and hope for the best.
Our stance or posture is constantly signalling to others our inner thoughts, self-awareness and self-image. Whether we like this because it feels natural to us is not the point. The point is that we are constantly showing to others what our internal state is through our external visible parts – that is, our stance.
It’s a silent message, so make sure that you’ve chosen a strong, appealing and confident stance as you’re speaking in front of your audience.
If your Voice is weak, thin or constricted at the throat, that is uncertain and constantly shifting – it saps your confidence, transmits your nervousness and undermines your credibility.
Train and exercise your Voice to have a deeper, more resonant note that is filled with power and certainty. Have inflection that reassures rather than planting doubts in your listeners. Develop a Voice that commands.
You may not have the distinctive Voice of James Earl Jones, or actors Sean Connery or Al Pacino. But you can train your breath, Voice and Speech tones that expresses the REAL you. Much of what your current Voice has been used and developed through years of unconscious use. Yet the Voice can be trained and tuned so that you can produce a deeper resonance and a much wider modulation.
Have you ever thought about the gestures that your hands make when you are standing and speaking in front of your audience? How about when you are sitting at the conference table? Do your hands and body make meaningless gestures that distract both you and your audience? Meaningless gestures distract both your audience and lowers the quality of your talk.
Remember that body gestures either enhances or detracts from the power of your words. If you are holding a sheet of notes or your presenter clicker in your hands, make sure that you do not wave these wildly around as you will distract your listeners.
Gestures that are finger-tugging or floppy wrists or pointing fingers or hands clenched in front of your body all fail to show your personal power. Correct these negative gestures. Positive gestures increase your talk’s power leading to emphasis of your words and takes your presentation to a higher level.
(To be continued in Part 2)