Let me begin by explaining the point of this blog and who should be reading this.
If you communicate by using your voice at work or at home, standing or sitting or on the phone, you can benefit from this article. We will dive into building blocks of public speaking and add to the knowledge you already know while providing useful tips that you can apply to help you become a more efficient speaker.
Learning to present takes some time. If you are willing to spend that time you can become a better presenter no matter your current speaking level. We all have something to learn so let's get started. And please, feel free to comment and I will do my best to get back to you in a timely fashion.
Each section will build on the last, so if you are just joining us feel free to visit the part one. This is a process not an event so be patient with your progress.
Part One: The importance of body language
Since we were young and probably when our parents were young we are told:
"Actions speak louder then words"
Hands relaxed to the side
No pockets, Hands touching, Behind the back, or Arms crossed
Study after study show that body language and the way you present impact the listener more then the content or voice of what you say. The voice is the how you say, what voice inflection you use, pace, volume etc. All three areas are important content, voice, and body language. This section is going to focus on that one part that tends to get people in trouble before the utter a word: Body Language
How you stand says something about you!
What you choose to do when you are presenting should add value to the presentation and the audience. If what you are doing is not adding value you are loosing your effectiveness and thus your message.
If you view yourself as a canvas our goal is create a blank slate to build from. This "something" should not take away from your presentation, instead be a platform that you can build on.
It is called many things from neutral stance, starting position, ready...they all get to the same point. Your go-to position is simply standing balanced, feet just more then shoulder length apart, and most importantly your hands relaxed down to your side.
Practice for a moment standing in this position. Right now, at your computer, please stand up. This is your go-to position, hands down to your sides, balanced stance. This is the position you will default to at all times. From this position you will be able to move, gesture, and create a pleasant image for your audience to spend time listening to you instead of questioning your message.
As you think about this, think about how you typically stand while you are presenting. Are you in the majority of people that has your hands clasping in front of them in a wallflower position. Maybe you keep your hands in your pockets, or behind your back. These all send messages to your audience. If you are interested what they are feel free to email or comment your questions about specific standing positions and what that position may say about you.
This go-to position generally does not feel comfortable at first. That is because we tend not to stand this way when we talk in most social situations. That is ok. We are talking about training to become better presenters while watching TV with our friends we are working towards becoming better presenters as a way to build our career. This go-to position will begin to feel more natural and you will need to practice to get comfortable standing this way in front of an audience.
TIP - If you are giving a seated position what would your go-to position look like? This is a common question so I am going to answer it here in the body of the message. If seated at a boardroom table, sit straight up, shoulders square, and hands in front of you on the table one hand 4 - 6 inches the other 8 - 12 inches in front of you. The key is having your hands flat on the table and NOT touching.
Your hands should only touch if you are gesturing with them and mean to touch them together.
Now what do with all this extra energy and excitement causing me to get jittery?
Keep your audience paying attention and engaged. The next article will build on this with movement and how to expand your presence by using the room.