Body language for public speakers
INTERVIEW: We have met up with the people behind speakerrating.com to talk to them about body language for public speakers. Read along if you’re interested in taking you speaking skills to the next level.
What is body language for public speakers?
Body language is the way you mediate and clarify what you just said.
How do you do it?
By moving your arms, head, shoulders, waist, knee, legs and feet. It is a pre-programmed movement pattern, that your parents transferred to you in the DNA.
Why is it that you use your body language when talking to your family or your colleagues, but stop doing it the minute you step onto the stage in a meeting room or at a conference?
Often it is about our fear, our insecurities and lack of confidence. These situations ( meetings, conferences, Ed.) are where we find ourselves in positions that diminish our ability to create confidence. Confidence is the alpha and the omega in all communication. Some of the movements that are detrimental to building confidence are:
'Fig leaf' (placing hands in front of the reproductive organs)
'Block' (lower arms out in a ninety-degree angle with palms stretched upwards)
'Rabbit' (same as the previous but with hands stretched downwards)
'Prayer' (hands together with finger entwined)
‘The CEO’ (arms crossed in front of the chest)
‘Whisk’ (a repeated, monotonous movement with either left or right hand in whisking movement)
‘The Major’ (hands behind the back. This gesture becomes particularly precious when the individual wants to make a particularly poignant point: he/she then stops and performs a toe-lift)
Last but not least is
Last but not least is
"The Skater" (Hands in pockets with the thumb either inside or outside of the pocket. Front pockets, as well as back pockets, are not a here.
These gestures go by many names, but all-in-all they all hinders the user from building confidence. Studies since the 1970es have shown it to influence our communication profoundly.
Studies show that we can create up to 70 percent of trust using non-verbal communication. 70 percent is the average value of the reviews concerning non-verbal communication and this is why we need to talk about body language for public speakers.
Body language for public speakers is selling
Try thinking about the last time you listened to someone triying to sell you something. In this thought-experiment, it is important to realize that we are selling in many situations every day.
If you think you are not in sales, you are wrong. You may have sold a thought, an idea or something that you want the people around you to decide on.
You can sell anything to anyone. From getting your kid to clean his or her room, to making your friend book that trip you have been talking about. It is selling when making your colleague decide about that idea you had concerning the next marketing-event.
And what is selling about?
Well, it is all about trust. We base the majority of our decisions on emotions, and creating trust is about making the person you are talking to get a feeling of you and what you are saying. This feeling leads to a decision, which will often favor you. Non-verbal communication plays a large part in creating this trust towards you.
Consequently, we should ask ourselves, what is body language for me and how do I succeed in my communication?
Start with your mental attitude
A lot of it has to do with attitude. To get up and talk in front of an audience is often something we fear more than death itself. At least that is what research tells us.
That is why the first suggestion is to work on your mental attitude. This work can be achieved through uplifting music or in front of a mirror. Some say they do not believe in amping up themselves before taking the stage, but truth be told: our brains are incapable of distinguishing between what is real and what is fiction.
Thus, even a simple exercise will unleash the part of our brain that makes us dare. It also creates testosterone in our bodies that makes us more prone to risk
This testosterone makes us take the stage and perform our talk or presentation.
When this is all done, and your mental attitude is where it needs to be it is time to talk about the specifics of body language for public speakers. Start by grabbing a neutral position when talking. A neutral position is when your feet are facing the audience and just slightly separated from each other, no wider than your shoulders, and your arms hang down on the side of your body. This position may seem unnatural, but this is just because you are unaccustomed with it.
The more often you choose stand in this position and “relax”, the more comfortable this will feel.
In the neutral position the signals you send are two-way: first, you show that you are open to suggestions, comments or questions. You are open to dialogue. Second, you are now free to focus on the signals from your brain about how you need to move your hands, body, and legs to enhance and underline what you are saying with your mouth.
As people, we often see what is said before we hear it.
Having the arms down the side of your body will give you the freedom to listen and react to signals from your brain. The relaxed nature of this pose will free you up to perform so-called 'functional gestures.' These gestures are crucial to body language. They will let you use everything from spatial movements to show the mass of something (how big or small something is, or how high or low something is), to regulators (a regulator is something you create with the audience, like a relation) like opening up your arms to the audience to welcome them. This movement creates a regulator, regardless of the size of your audience.
You can even use one of my favorites: drawing. A drawing is when you use your fingers, arms, hands or your whole body to describe what your mouth just said. An example could be drawing a square in front of you when you ask people to take out their tablets or phones.
To use non-verbal communication is without a doubt a significant factor in achieving anything. Especially if you are a public speaker.
An excellent way to improve your body language for public speakers is doing it step by step. The first step is to dare practice. Some consider it unnecessary and ridiculous. Training is the way to progress. So do it.
Get in front of a mirror, look at yourself when giving your speech or presentation. Ask yourself how it seems. Does it look natural? Or do something lock up?
Sometimes we think it looks natural, but in reality, we focus on other things: what we need to say, how to say it and how it sounds.
Here is where the second thing comes in. This secondary thing may seem like the worst thing on this planet. It is also a tool that helps most people across the globe. It is a tool that most, not everyone but most, carry along with them in their pocket, bag, jacket or just nearby: mobile phones. If you turn it on, you have a revolutionary tool that can help you in your quest to activate and grow your body language. I am, of course, talking about the camera. Almost all mobile phones let us record ourselves.
This is how you will get that outside perspective on yourself.
When you are done filming, you can start analyzing and ask yourself - does this look good? Does it seem natural? If the answer is no, then you know where you can grow. If your body language is locked, put your arms down and become neutral. The best thing about recording yourself is that you can do it again and again and keep seeing your improvements.
Practice makes perfect. There are no shortcuts.
The third and final thing, you need to become the person, who knows what body language means and how important it is to winning: be yourself. Communication is something you are continuously engaged in, from you open your eyes till you close them again. Knowing how, when and in what way to communicate will bring you great advantages as, privately as well as professionally.
If nothing else, take this with you: every time you are in front anyone, it can be one, ten or a hundred people. Your body language is not just important. Body language is imperative.
It is not a talent to be a great speaker; it is a skill.