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Use Body Language to add hidden power to the Message of Your Presentation

In any speech or presentation, your body language adds power to the message. It supports what your words are saying. The operative word here is, of course, “support”. Body language must be in tune with the message. And the corollary is that body language must also not distract or detract from the message. If they are denying each other, then your presentation will fail.

Confidence and sincerity are the absolute basis for this process. If your body is declaring that you are not sincere in what you are saying then your credibility decreases and there is no way your message will have the impact it should have. Think about the tone of your message. Is it relaxed, conversational? Then make your body language relaxed. Is it passionate, strong and powerful, then create body language that conveys that power. Is it alert and enthusiastic, then your body language will be upright and reflecting that enthusiasm.

You also need to be aware that your gestures can support or detract from your message. Learn to become aware of what your hands are doing while you speak. If necessary, make yourself hold them still. Many people have habits that are terribly distracting and yet they aren’t aware of what they are doing. They click or twiddle a pen, play with their hair or their clothes, hold a microphone with fingers unconsciously making a rude gesture, take glasses on and off, put hands in pockets and take them out. All of these things are not necessarily detrimental in themselves, if the audience is absolutely focused on the speaker and the message. But if there is any reason for the audience’s attention to stray (and we all have short attention spans) then they will become fascinated, at best, and possibly annoyed at whatever it is that the speaker is doing with their hands.

If, on the other hand, (my pun!!), those hands are working to support the speech, they will bring the attention back to the message. They will also give power to the impact of the message.

Natural gestures are basically the aim. If you are not a natural gesturer, your body will support your message. It is necessary to be aware that you are not repeating the same gesture many times. It may add emphasis the first time, but after that it will distract as much as the others mentioned earlier. Watch television journalists and sooner or later you will notice this.

You can also practice gestures. Join a public speaking club (and I recommend POWERtalk), where you can practise in a supportive environment until you are comfortable, and confident that your gestures are not detracting from your message.

Of course, there are many books and websites with information about body language and gestures. Basically:
Gestures above shoulder level support messages about things that are spiritual or uplifting (a church minister will raise his hands in blessing).

Ordinary messages are supported by gestures at the middle level of your body.

Things that are despicable or degrading or debilitating are supported by gestures below the waist.
You can use your palms. Held out, palm upwards, they support supplication, requesting a response, or openness. They can be used to indicate division if held vertically with the little finger down. Using a fist is a very powerful gesture. It indicates strong power and passion, and may also be used as a threat. Be careful with that. Take care, too, with pointing with a finger. People don’t respond well to accusation or to being singled out, so be sure your gesture supports your message.

Your clothes, too, can distract attention from your message. If you have a very bright or unusual item of clothing, if your scarf or tie flaps in a breeze, if your earrings dangle or click, or your necklace or tie pin clicks on a microphone, the audience will be distracted from your message. Again, unless your message is absolutely riveting, your clothes will become the centre of attention just as gestures can, and your message will lose its impact.

How you stand and walk works in just the same way. If you are a passionate speaker who simply cannot stand still, then hopefully you will support the passion of your message. Try to use standing still to give the same sort of impact that a pause in the middle of rapid speech would give. If you choose to move or change position just to provide relief because you think your speech is boring; be careful. It may be that your movement will have more impact than your massage. Timing can help so that you change position with a new idea or with a new visual support. Try to make all of your body language work with the movement. So, for example, if you want to walk to give the impression of thinking of a new idea, then set your hand up to your face to indicate thoughtfulness, and speak slowly or stop speaking altogether.

Facial expression, too, must be in harmony with your message, or it will work against it, just as your body language does.

Everything – body language, image and message must work together to create the impact you have chosen.


© Bronwyn Ritchie … If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie helps speakers to be confident and effective. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, confident and sucessful, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

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