<-- back to ARTICLES

How to improve your presentation skills -

Part 6 - Body language matters

How you look is just as important as how you sound. Generally, an audience remembers 56% of what they see, 38% of vocal tone, and 6% of the words. What that means is that a speakerís energy and passion for a topic must come from the body as well Ė facial expressions and body gestures.

Eye contact helps the speaker to relate and converse with the audience. Try to look at one person for a moment or two and then another, especially at the end of a sentence or thought. It helps emphasize a point. Make sure that you make eye contact with people in all parts of the room, not just one section.

Many people wonder ďWhat should I do with my hands?Ē If you tend to gesture a lot when speaking, then do so. If it is distracting, work on scaling back. Do not put hands in your pocket. Do not fold your arms in front of your chest or put them behind the back. Create opportunities to gesture and make sure the gestures are bold.

Be aware of posture. When sitting, your back should be straight and donít hunch your shoulders. When standing, donít slouch. Keep your head straight and feet flat on the floor.

Podiums are useful in a large setting and when the microphone is attached to the stand. However, they can act as a barrier between a speaker and the audience and prevents them from getting the full visual impact of a presentation. If there is a detachable microphone, handheld or lavalier that can be attached to your body, then use it.

Walking around is good but, donít just pace back and forth or move your hands aimlessly. Any movement must have a purpose and should be used to help emphasize a point you are trying to make. If you stay in one place, make sure the weight is evenly distributed on both feet. If possible, lean in to people as you speak as a way to help draw them in.

Most importantly, you want to be comfortable. If a speaker feels or looks awkward, the audience will pick up on that. These are general tips which, if practiced over time, will improve your comfort level and ease of speaking in public.

Webmaster: Ron Wauschek