Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Body Language Makes a Difference When You Present

by Gilda Bonanno LLC www.gildabonanno.com  

Body language, or non-verbal communication, is a key element of your presentation and should match the content of what you’re saying.  

Body language consists of several different elements:

·         Posture: how you stand

·         Facial expressions: whether you’re smiling or frowning, or just looking like a deer in the headlights

·         Eye contact: if you’re looking at people in the audience without ignoring any part of the room

·         Gestures: what you’re doing with your hands

·         Movement: what you’re doing with your body (are you nervously pacing, or doing a little dance with your feet?)

·         Voice – how you project, how fast you’re talking, how much you enunciate, how you vary your voice

Your body language should tell the same story as your words. So when you’re trying to develop and demonstrate confidence, your body should help you rather than undermine that. And the first step is to become aware of your body language. 

For example, I had one client who was completely unaware that as he presented, he rolled his sleeves
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up and down.  So I said to him at the end of a presentation, “Do you know what you’re doing with your hands?” and he said, “No.” And I said, “Look at your sleeves. One’s up and one’s down!” And he said, “Did I do that?”  My response was, “Yes, you did.  And until we can fix this, wear short sleeves.”


Sometimes you’re so worried about what you’re going to say or you’re so nervous that you don’t realize that your body language is sending a message that undercuts your authority.  If you’re in front of an audience and you don’t make eye contact, and you’re not sure what to do with your hands and your voice is really soft, you are not conveying confidence.

And if your words are fine, but your body language isn’t, the audience gets confused, and they must just believe the body language, “Well, you know, she said X but she didn’t sound too sure of herself, so I’m not sure we need to go with that.”

Once you become aware of your body language, you can work on improving it while still keeping it natural and unstilted.  Think of body language as a means to communicate your message, rather than an end in itself. 

So the next time that you have to present, make sure your body language tells the same story and doesn’t undermine your message.


Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com
 

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