Body language. It is a term we hear much about from articles, books, and the media. There is even a crime show, called Lie to Me, in which the main character specializes in interpreting the microexpressions and body language of others, cleverly changing his own body language to further unsettle the suspect.
Do you know what your body language is saying when you are speaking? Is it conveying confidence and assuredness or is it telling another story?
Standing rigid and frozen to one spot is not reassuring to your audience. Likewise, pacing back and forth is distracting and is just as bad as a message filled with ums and ahs. If your body language detracts from or interferes with your delivery, then you should definitely work on improving it. Perhaps you have a tic in which you constantly tap your foot, for example, or maybe you play with your hair.
Just as with all other aspects of your delivery, having someone analyze your performance can be very beneficial; however, your best tool is your video recorder. If you can record yourself in practice as well as during the actual presentation, you will learn more than you can imagine.
The first time I was interviewed on TV, I discovered two things about myself: I had a tendency to close my eyes when speaking; and, purple was not my color! Two weeks later while being interviewed on another television program, I made sure to keep my eyes open when I spoke and I wore a color that was much more complementary.
Many people are unsure of what to do with their hands when speaking. What do you do with your hands when you are talking to your friends, your family, or your colleagues? Again, if you don’t know the answer to that question, record yourself in a simple conversation with your family or friends. At first you may feel uncomfortable; but, if you will keep the camera recording and talk about a subject about which you are passionate, you will forget about the camera.
When you play back the recording, study what your body is saying. Do you use your hands when you talk, for example? If so, then why not use your hands in the same manner when you are presenting? Do you move your shoulders or shake you head or change your stance? Generally, what you do in conversation is what you should do on the stage or at the head of the boardroom table.
Please understand that I am not advocating large, loud, frenetic movements of your body either. The idea is to keep your audience’s attention on your message. Constant movement which is greatly exaggerated will detract from what you want to share with your listeners. The idea is to be natural – to be yourself. What you normally would do in conversation is what you should strive to achieve at the lectern or on the stage.
If you generally speak with little expression in the vocal variety of your voice as well as in your body language and facial expression, you should work with a coach who can teach you how to ‘let go’ and allow your emotion to be seen and heard. A monotone delivery is the best means of putting your audience to sleep!
Even very slight movement of your body, your arms, your legs, and your hands is better than no movement at all and will definitely make you that much more comfortable because it will help your body relax. Your audience will then perceive you at ease which is truly the best body language you can convey.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. To see how voice training can improve your life, both professionally and personally, visit Voice Dynamic or watch a brief video as The Voice Lady describes Dynamic Public Speaking.