This is a short article on body language, written as if you will do a presentation, and get feedback on it.

Speaking with Your Whole Body Time: 5 to 7 minutes

Our bodies talk all the time. 80 to 90% of our normal human communication is via our body language, and much of that is subconscious. We are often unknowingly influenced by others via their facial expressions and body language. It’s built into us. Most mammals ‘talk’ mostly with their body language. Body language, along with variations in vocal tone, is the most effective way to communicate with your dog or cat. Body language is crucial, that’s why we learn by doing, and why we can’t just learn to communicate by reading about it.
When we learn by doing we imprint our speaking, our body language, and our conscious and unconscious minds to become one whole person. True ‘wholeness’ - where our bodies, our speech, and our facial expressions all express the same message at the same time - is rare and is known as an authentic presence. Most of us inadvertently say one thing with our body language, another with our verbals, and maybe a third with our facial expressions. This mixing-up is what causes us to be uneasy or ‘turned-off’ with some people some of the time. On the other hand, people with a high authentic presence are believable, holistic, and often charismatic. They have a distinct easy-to-see ‘trueness’ in what they say and do.

“Charisma is the transference of enthusiasm." ?? Ralph Archibald

You build an effective speaking presence with practice and awareness - awareness of yourself and of those you are interacting with. You might start with Dress for Success, it’s the apt name of a good book and it makes sense to dress appropriately for your audience. If you actually read the book you’ll find that it focuses on what works, not artificial rules, and so should you. Most of the time simply ‘doing it’ with good feedback is as good as ‘reading some rules’. Experimenting, being a bit outrageous as you step outside your personal boundaries, while following how it feels inside you as you do it, will teach you to be a more effective you.
Your face is an extremely effective communicator. We know and see emotions by what we see on people’s faces. Your eyes, eye movements, eyebrows, and mouth-cheek movements can deeply move others. As can a range of head movements.
If you’ve spent much time working with people whose English is dramatically different from yours, you may have found yourself reading lips more than usual. You might also do the same in very noisy circumstances or when your hearing has been damaged. It seems that women naturally read lips more than men do, and this helps them adapt to and learn new languages more readily.
Eye contact is key to bonding. Look directly at someone while you express a thought or phrase, then go on. Gradually work the room with your eyes as you talk. And beware that other cultures don’t necessarily value as much eye contact as Caucasian North American culture.
Gestures are large enough to be the most expressive way to communicate with your body when you’re speaking to a group. You can probably think of a dozen gestures that you and others habitually do to add spice to your conversations. Most of these are probably universal, multi-culture, gestures, but some will be culture specific. Gestures can make you a much more expressive and dynamic speaker, especially if you move about while making them.
Body movements send a wide variety of signals, play with them, have your group brainstorm the meanings as someone goes through a range of body movements. Or play such movements in your mind and find your own personal interpretations, and be aware that interpretations vary.

A simple summary: body movement adds energy to your talk, walking toward a group adds impact, walking sideways can be used to change topics or to provide some kind of interlude or indication something that’s ongoing, walking backwards away from the group might indicate that you’re backing off from a topic and maybe changing to the next one. However if you just simply make such a series of moves, people will probably wonder what all your shuffling about means. You have to combine what you do with what you say in your natural way of doing things.
If you ever drop something, just slowly go down and pick it up. Speed sends ‘rushed and error’ signals but stately moves don’t. And of course, remember to be you, not just a set of rules (or a powerpoint).

Dance is an age old form of body language, and many cultures deliberately danced to mimic animals in their living environment, thus adding expressiveness as well as living links to their greater environment. We do role plays based on scenarios, and a good role play can dramatically add to your awareness of a situation while helping you build capability.

There is another aspect to body language. As someone learns to use their body more effectively they often go through stages. They might take random nervous energy and focus it into ‘purposeless’ pacing as they build self-awareness. We don’t want to encourage pacing, but if pacing is a good intermediate step as you develop self-awareness and control then take up pacing as you speak. You might have other mannerisms that are intermediate on your route to increasing self-control and self-awareness. If so, you’ll likely have to put-up with people evaluating you badly while you build capability to go beyond pacing or whatever your particular mannerism is. Do it anyway.

Use body language as a normal and natural part of your speaking. Play with your body language over time, experiment, feel free to make missteaks as you grow your capability. In this speech pick a topic that cries out for dramatic body language and use it fully.

"A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner, neither do uninterrupted prosperity and success qualify for usefulness and happiness. The storms of adversity, like those of the ocean, rouse the faculties, and excite the invention, prudence, skill and fortitude or the voyager. The martyrs of ancient times, in bracing their minds to outward calamities, acquired a loftiness of purpose and a moral heroism worth a lifetime of softness and security." ?? Author Unknown


The purpose of your evaluation is to help the speaker and you, and the rest of your group, become more proficient and less self?conscious. Your goal is to help the speaker try to grow awareness of the her/his skill level, habits and mannerisms. If the speaker uses a certain technique or some gesture made that receives a good response from the audience, tell him/her so he or she might use it again.
If you're dealing with someone who is very nervous or who stammers, or has distracting gestures, listen to them ahead of time. Make some kind of contact to see if they have a special request. It's likely that you should simply encourage such people to speak out, to accept themselves and to let themselves grow self-awareness. Many things need to be amplified into awareness, and this process often takes years.
We want people to reach out, to make lots of mistakes, to learn from the mistakes, and to be encouraged to improve. Show and tell. Mentor.

We grow more from watching/listening then reflecting and then evaluating – in the spiraling cycle, than we do from simply speaking. Partially because we can then learn how to evaluate others all the time. We can then continually learn, becoming our own best evaluators.

After reflecting on the presentation, use the sandwich technique to evaluate. Your basic sandwich tells 1) what you appreciate, 2) a challenge in the middle, and 3) encouragement to continue growing. Another evaluation sandwich is - retain, reduce, increase. First what the person is doing well and should retain. Then things they should stop or reduce. Finally point out things that might be increased.

Do not evaluate the speech content. Please don’t repeat the speech in short form.

Evaluating Body language: Our body language speaks directly to the brain’s limbic system, mostly going right past our conscious. As Executive EQ says, “Intuition, emotional content, influence, trust, and believability are all processed in the preconscious areas of the brain - the limbic system, which serves not only as a gateway to the sites where cognition, or thinking, take place but as the brain’s emotional center.” Which indicates that body language that tells a different story than spoken language confuses people, and can cause miss-trust, unfavourable emotions, and so on. Body language is often considered 80% of a presentation, because the limbic system is taking in thousands of times more information than the conscious, so our unconscious gets a LOT more than the conscious.

Be supportive while being objective and sincere. You’re speaking to someone focusing on their speech, their emotions, and their body language. Remember that insincerity, aka sugary sweetness, can lead to the reverse of your intentions. People may feel nice about being given sugar but the sugar high doesn’t last.

“He helps others most, who shows them how to help themselves.” - A. P. Gouthey

Author's Bio: 

The material is from my ebook "The Dao of Diabetes." I assert that an assertive person with an authentic presence will be happier and healthier. Therefore a holistic approach to things like diabetes 2 should include a variety of ways for self improvement. And of course the pattern works for everybody.

You can find the ebook on Google books and there's bit of into at