Your Body Speaks Even When You Don’t!

Body LanguageWhen we think about communication and speaking in front of a group we tend to focus on what we are going to say. Yet so much is communicated just by our body language – you can reveal a lot without saying any words. Think about it – can you remember a time when you saw someone who was happy or upset and their facial expressions alone gave you a massive clue as to how they were feeling?

In the same way, whether you are feeling anxious or enthusiastic about your speech, the audience will be able to read your body language. You cannot not communicate. Yes that’s right…a double negative! Read that again.

Whenever you are in a room with others you are communicating – with your breathing, facial expressions and body movements. Otherwise known as non verbal communication. The way you stand, the use of your hands and how you move across the stage all say something about you. If you are feeling nervous, which is very common, then your breathing, wobbly voice and playing with a pen in your hand may give you away. That will make your audience feel uncomfortable. As will jangling of coins in your pocket or pacing about.

Quite often all this is happening unconsciously – we don’t realise that these habits have crept in until someone points it out to us. I once worked with a client who had not realised they were standing on one leg behind the lecturn for 20 minutes during a presentation rehearsal!

We want our audience to be engaged. For that to happen they need to feel comfortable and not have any distractions dragging them away from you and your message. If you feel comfortable and enthusiastic then so will they. They feel what you feel – it’s a concept called mirror neurons. Proper preparation is key to ensuring any distractions are minimised. Here are some ideas for you to try out next time:

  1. The first step is self awareness – having someone else watch you speak or videoing yourself will give you amazing insight into what is going on. When you fully realise what the audience is seeing and hearing you can make adjustments.
  2. For those nerves – the physical symptoms are the same as excitement, yet we percive them as a bad thing. Reframe the way you think about feelings of fear. Think of those butterflies as an adrenalin rush – because that is what it is. It means you are ready to rock and that is a good thing!
  3. Practise and rehearse. The more you do the better you will be able to iron out distracting gestures, enjoy the adrenalin rush and feel comfortable in front of a crowd.

There are no shortcuts, but the effort is always worth it.

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