When you are presenting, it is important to be aware of your non-verbal communication. When you say one thing and your non-verbals or body language says something else, the audience gets confused and tends to believe the non-verbals.
Here are the elements of non-verbal communication that you need to be aware of when presenting:
Make Eye Contact With the Audience
Looking people in the eye means that you are comfortable with the material and that you are actually trying to connect with them. Make eye contact with different people in the audience in a kind of random pattern. Hold the eye contact for about three to five seconds, which is about the time it takes you to complete a thought.
And if you’re presenting virtually, make eye contact with your audience by looking directly into the camera.
Energize and Vary Your Voice
Speak loudly, slowly and clearly enough to be heard and understood easily by your audience. Keep your voice energized by breathing fully. Avoid speaking in a monotone. Vary your pitch, volume and speed to communicate the meaning of your words and to keep the audience engaged. And use pauses to allow your audience to absorb what you’ve just said and to give yourself time to think of what you’re saying next (rather than filling the silence with “um” or “ah”).
Use Natural Gestures
Use gestures to illustrate what you are saying. For example, you can use your gestures for location. You can say, “We have clients from Asia and Europe,” and use your hands to show those locations. When not gesturing, your hands should be hanging loosely at your side.
Move With Purpose
Your default position should be to stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart, weight evenly distributed on both feet, knees relaxed. Then if you need to move closer to the audience to emphasize a point or you want to move to a different part of the room or to the flipchart, move with purpose. Avoid nervous pacing.
If you are presenting virtually, sit up or stand up straight and avoid moving so much that it becomes distracting or pulls you out of range of the camera.
Don’t Forget Your Facial Expressions
Be aware of your facial expressions and make sure they match what you are saying. Smile when appropriate since it can relax you and reassure the audience. If you're presenting virtually, beware of your facial expressions, especially when you are listening to others or thinking about a response to a question.
When you are preparing for a presentation, it’s important to be conscious of your non-verbal communication or body language. Practice until your non-verbals are natural and complement your presentation rather than distracting from it.
© Gilda Bonanno LLC - Gilda Bonanno serves as a trusted advisor to executives and entrepreneurs to transform their communication, presentation and leadership skills. She has worked with companies on 4 continents, from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome. The instructional videos on her YouTube channel have received over 2 million views and her e-newsletter has reached subscribers in over 45 countries since 2008. For other articles or to receive Gilda's e-newsletter, visit www.gildabonanno.com