As a speaker coach, I have the opportunity to observe, listen, critique and offer guidance to hundreds of clients each year. I may be in the audience, backstage or reviewing their keynotes, TEDx talks or pitches via video link. There is a hidden story of your feet, yet many speakers do not pay much attention to that part of their body.

One part of the body that I pay particular attention to when I am observing a speaker, is their feet.

Often when we think about our body language, we tend to focus primarily on facial expressions, body postures, and hand/arm gestures. 

Since the legs and feet are left unrehearsed, they reveal the truth, hence my foot watching.

Our feet give away how we are really feeling

Under stress, we can show nervousness through increased foot movements. Our feet may tap, point, fidget, shuffle, rock, and even wrap around the furniture. 

Feet will stretch and curl to relieve tension, or even kick and twitch as a dog does during dream time. We are unaware of these spontaneous foot movements and can be bemused and surprised when we become aware of what we are doing.

You can tell a lot about someone’s emotional state when you can see their entire body, as intuitively we read foot gestures. 

The eyes may be the window to the soul, but the feet are where the truth is found. 

So what can you do, to make sure your feet are doing what you want them to be doing?

The aim when you speak is to be congruent. This means being in tune with what you are saying, the voice you are using (both your internal and external voice), and the body language and the non-verbal way you are expressing yourself. Some of your body movements may be deliberate and then there are the micro gestures and spontaneous movements that occur in response to how you are feeling.

Be Grounded

When you are rehearsing your talk, take off your shoes and socks and stand with your feet planted firmly and evenly on the ground. Imagine your feet are the roots of a tree, and as you remain still the roots are extending into the ground to create a wonderful connection to the earth. Even better, go outside and actually feel the ground beneath your feet. There is a sensation of presence, stillness, and simply being when we feel every part of our foot in connection with the ground. Once you have that feeling, internalise this grounded way of being and recall this when you deliver your talk. Visualisation is an important part of preparation as a speaker.

Be Ready

There is a lot of internal energy going on in your body when you are about to speak. This builds as the excitement and tension rises. It’s best not to sit for too long before your turn to speak. This might be a challenge if you are at a conference or a long event and you may not feel that it’s appropriate to excuse yourself from the room. However, if it is possible to leave the room (there may be access to a green room at a conference) you can do a dance, jig, stretch, star jumps or whatever you need to let off a little bit of the energy. Bottled up for too long, this increased energy can lead to unnecessary fidgeting when you are speaking. You want to be able to channel the right level of energy minus the fidgeting.

Be Comfortable

Wear shoes that allow you to place your feet firmly and deliberately. If high heels are your thing, be aware that they can throw your body weight forward particularly if the heel is thin and so high that you have to rock and sway to keep your balance. If this feels awkward and uncomfortable pick some other shoes. Same goes with clothes, if we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t look comfortable, and in turn, our audience may not feel comfortable.

Be Grounded, Be Ready, Be Comfortable and let the hidden story of your feet tell the story of confidence.

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. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.

Here’s how I may help you 

Whether you have a hidden story of your feet, or you want to nail your next presentation, I can help you.

My services include: 

Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.

Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.

Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories. 

Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference or event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.

Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference or event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.