Your body speaks and expresses more than you realise. There are many behaviours and small reactions that are often caused by the stress of public speaking. Sometimes we underestimate their impact on our speaking, simply out of habit. But don’t worry: just as our body language reveals our stress and anxiety, it can also inspire confidence and facilitate our communication with the audience. So here we go, zooming in on the 4 parts of your body that can enhance your speech!
To begin with, it is important that you stand up straight, with flexibility and without stiffness of the body.
The recipe for this precious flexibility: stand on your toes a little, unlock your knees, lower your shoulders, put your chin back a little, and distribute your body weight evenly over your legs.
If you have a microphone, remember to avoid sticking it to your mouth. Try not to hold your arms too close to your body, so that you don’t look too stressed. For a successful speech, also avoid fidgeting, assume what you have come to do!
As far as space management is concerned, you can afford to be 2 metres wide and 1 metre deep. Don’t think bigger than that, as you risk distracting your audience more than anything else. Again, assume where you are and what you have come to do. Why not try to move towards the audience sometimes, but prefer to move horizontally.
Extra tip: Practice the right posture in front of a mirror so that it becomes natural for you.
Above all, your face should be open to the public and smiling.
Your facial expressions and movements will help articulate your speech. Your head, shoulders and neck can remain flexible and can lean to one side or the other. You should know that this will unconsciously be perceived as a sign of empathy by the audience.
A second very important point: your eyes must be wide open to help people feel concerned by your speech. Your gaze should be directed towards the horizon, keeping sufficient contact with your audience. This eye contact is very important, it will help you to build trust.
One more thing, to make sure you don’t forget anyone if you are in a room with a large audience, try to scan your audience with your eyes so that you can embrace the whole room.
And above all, don’t forget: the nose and mouth are also used for breathing, so use them as such and take advantage of the occasional silence. Indeed, after a question that requires some thought or after you have given important information, it is essential to give your audience time to better understand and remember your speech.
Extra tip: Try to find someone in your audience who will be your visual cue, allowing you to look away, and if you know this person, they may even remind you to smile!
Did you know that your hands unconsciously support your words? It is important that you let them live and move freely without thinking about it as you speak, at the same pace as your mouth says the words. Don’t worry, even if it doesn’t seem obvious at first, you’ll find that it becomes natural with time. But don’t think about it too much. If you are confident in what you are saying, your arms and hands will naturally support what you are saying.
However, if you are unsure, you can think about where you want to focus your hands as you prepare the content. For example, crossed hands can reflect reflection, you can use your arm to indicate an upward movement when talking about growth, or support your speech by listing with your fingers.
To finish with the hands and arms, avoid or limit as much as possible all self-contact. That is to say, touching your rings or bracelets, massaging the back of your neck or, even worse, putting your hands in your pockets, which is really strongly discouraged This gives an unserious air and draws the audience’s attention to parasite movements.
Extra tip: Try to imagine yourself speaking as if you were talking to friends. This way your body will be more relaxed, you will probably be more animated by your speech and your hands and arms will naturally come to the right place.
In general, make sure you control your body language.
Indeed, your body speaks and can sometimes send an unwanted message as we are not always aware of what our body language is sending to our audience. For example, if you cross your arms, it is a sign of lack of interest or even rejection. We also often have habits such as rocking one leg over the other or hunched shoulders due to lack of confidence. We are often unaware of these habits, but they can be a negative distraction for your audience and detract from your message. So why not film one of your speeches to get an idea of what’s going on behind the camera?
How can you go further and continue to improve your speaking? Be fully present in your mind! Focus exclusively on your presentation – the future can wait. This takes some practice and discipline, but the effect on presentation focus is real. Be actively aware of your posture, breathing and surroundings. Recite a positive motto to yourself before the presentation or listen to your favourite song to get you in a positive mood – believe it, your audience will notice your inner attitude too!
Note that these tips for adjusting your body language apply to a European culture and there are variables. Indeed, depending on the country and the area of the world, cultures vary and behaviours no longer mean the same thing. This is why it is essential to learn about the habits and customs of the audience you are addressing to avoid making any mistakes.
So you may think that these are insignificant details, but put together, these are the small details that will transform your speeches and make them unforgettable!
The most important thing to remember: Stand up straight, your body weight should be well distributed on your two legs, remember to unlock your knees, your neck should be flexible and your chin carried forward, so that you appear comfortable and confident. Don’t forget to free your hands, which are eager to help you and are a good ally for you in getting the attention of your audience. They will also allow you to obtain that much sought-after feeling: confidence.
Remember to be yourself, smile (a little) and have fun (a lot)!
Take it step by step, to be comfortable with body language and to succeed in speaking, you need a lot of practice, so don’t be discouraged, you’ll get there!
If you have enjoyed this article and would like to put what you have learned into practice, ask for an appointment at one of our showrooms near you to create your first video!