Body language speaks volumes.
Just have a look at these 2 pictures and see what you read in to the body language there.
It’s quite easy isn't it?
So if it’s easy for you to see here, how easy it for your audience to interpret your body language during a presentation?
And I use the word “interpret” deliberately, because here’s a truism:
I don’t care if you are saying “that’s not the way I feel” – what matters is how your audience interprets what your body is saying.
For example, out of habit you may be fiddling with a ring on your finger during a presentation. To the audience that means “he’s nervous” – whether you are not doesn’t matter, it’s how the audience sees it. Get the point?
So you’ve got to be very aware of what message you are (unconsciously) sending out – is it positive, is it friendly, is it persuasive?
The most common negative habits are:
- Presenting with your arms folded in front of you (=”What I say goes!)
- Putting your hands in your pockets (=I’m nervous but don’t want to show it)
- Fiddling with coins in the pocket/playing with a pen /playing with the whiteboard marker (=” I’m really nervous”)
- Pointing at the audience with a pointer or pen (=”now just to listen to me”).
I recommend you start with your feet very slightly apart, square on to the audience, with your hands loosely at your side, or, if that feels uncomfortable, clasped lightly in front of you.
In all cases you want to make it easy for you to gesture (and we’ll deal with gestures in the next blog post).
But this matter of boy language is a two-way street!
What do I mean by that?
Well, while the audience will interpret your body language, you can also interpret theirs!
- So if you see a sleepy look coming over people – then liven up the presentation or take a break.
- If you see a puzzled look coming over people’s faces – then explain the point again, they haven’t understood it.
- If they look bored – well you know what to do then – throw something surprising into the presentation to wake them up!
Now I mentioned earlier that gestures are part of body language, so in my next post I’m going to talk about that subject all by itself.