When it comes to public speaking, what you say can be overshadowed by your body language. Even if you manage to write the perfect speech – one that is captivating and perfectly conveys your points with accessible language – it can all go to waste if your delivery doesn’t back up your words.
How you present yourself to your audience speaks volumes before you even say a word. With first impressions counting for everything these days, you want to make sure you are exuding confidence and a trustworthy air that will pull your audience into your story.
Below are six tips that can help you change your body language to match your words – confidently.
Maintain an Assertive Posture.
Posture is the first step in appearing more confident. To stand more confidently, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulders back – and face the audience as much as possible.
Watch Your Hands – Use Gestures to Emphasize.
You want to make sure that your hands follow along with what your words are conveying. Make sure that you aren’t fidgeting throughout your speech, as this makes it seem as though you are unsure of what you are saying – thus causing distrust with your audience. Avoid gestures such as pointing, placing your hands on your hips, or crossing your arms – this can signal aggressiveness, defensiveness, or nervousness.
Keeping your hands open communicates trust and cooperation.
Pay Attention to Your Facial Expressions.
This one is simple – don’t forget to smile!
Maintain Eye Contact.
When you make eye contact, you are expressing that you are open to communication – conveying trust and approachability. The caveat to this, though, is to make sure that you move your eye contact throughout the audience, do not stare intently as this will come off aggressively and can make your audience uncomfortable.
Lastly, don’t be too rigid. Make sure that you are moving around and interacting with your entire audience and not just the people right in front of you.
So the next time you are preparing to present your speech, take a look at not just the dialogue, but also how you deliver it. Don’t rehearse your speech sitting at your desk. Instead, stand up, pull your shoulders back, and address an imaginary audience. Picture yourself on stage, at the front of a boardroom, or the head of a table full of guests. Get comfortable connecting your body’s actions to your mouth’s words, and remember the point behind your speech – to inform, to congratulate, to entertain.
“There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.” – Dale Carnegie