5 body language tips for public speaking confidence.
Public Speaking Confidence
Use your body language to take control of the stage. When starting out as a public speaker many people fear standing in front of the audience. This is often because you know that the audience is looking at you and summing you up. As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Here are 5 body language tips for public speaking confidence.
If you follow these simple steps you can ensure that your public speaking body language sends out the right message. Even if you are terrified on the inside, try to focus on the basic points below. This will give the impression that you are poised and in control (although you might think you are not!). Just give it a go, it really does work!
Non-verbal communication makes up a large proportion of our overall communication. Whether you are a nervous beginner or looking to improve your public speaking, effective body language is a powerful tool that will enhance your message.
5 Body Language tips for Public Speaking Confidence
Body Language tip 1 Stance
Before you even begin to speak, you can look confident and at ease with the correct stance. Plant both feet firmly on the ground with your weight evenly spread across both feet. Have your legs slightly wider than your shoulders and stand tall. Having a firm, even stance will prevent you from rocking, swaying or otherwise fidgeting with your feet. You can instantly appear more authoritative and confident when you speak by having a good stance. Remember not to stand frozen to the spot!
# 2 Hands
Beginning public speakers commonly ask “What do I do with my hands?” In everyday conversation, we use our hands to gesture and we don’t give it a second thought, but when we begin public speaking it often feels very awkward.
Use your hands as you would naturally to emphasize a point in your speech. Hand gestures are best if the movement stems from the shoulder rather than having the upper arms and elbows glued to your sides.
It is OK to stand in front of the audience for an extended period of time without doing anything with your arms. Just let your arms hang naturally by your sides. This gives the audience the impression you are relaxed. Things to avoid include: clasping the hands over the stomach, putting your hands in your pockets and wringing of the hands (which can often occur if you are very nervous).
# 3 Face
The simplest facial expression you can use is a smile. It’s easy to forget to smile; you might not feel like smiling if you are overcome with fear. I remember my first speech, my teeth were knocking and my lips were quivering. If you begin your speech with a smile, the lips cannot quiver if the skin is stretched over the teeth.
A smile also signals to the audience that you are enjoying the moment and that they can relax as you are in control. Use other facial expressions to make your speech more interesting. Make sure your facial expressions mirror the words you are using. For example, if you are talking about being shocked – look shocked.
# 4 Eyes
Always look at the audience. If you use notes then do not speak while you are looking at your notes; use that time to pause and then when you are ready with your next point look up to the audience again.
Hold your eye contact for several seconds per person and avoid the “laughing clown” movement by ensuring you mix it up. Try to include the whole audience if you are speaking to a small group. If the room is large and the crowd is big, focus your gaze on a small group in the audience before you move to the next.
# 5 Gestures
Gestures have a couple useful points. Gestures are used to emphasise and punctuate your ideas. They can assist with the recall of a prepared speech by associating that part of the speech with a certain gesture.
As a general rule, the size of the gestures needs to match the size of the speaking area. If you are speaking to a large audience on a big stage – use the space. Ensure that your gestures are above the waist and that the movement comes from the whole arm. This helps avoid flapping your hands in front of your face, which is very distracting and common. Use open handed gestures as part of your public speaking body language and remember to never point at the audience.
About the author
Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor.
She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations.
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