I’ve been asked by clients whether to stop moving around when delivering a presentation and I’ve been asked by clients whether to start moving around in a presentation. Either way, people do get twitchy when it comes to thinking about body language…and that’s maybe the nub of it. When we start thinking about body language we can get into a bit of a muddle.
Here’s the simple answer: body language is part of the whole picture ( ‘scuse the pun) when we communicate. The words we use, the voice we use to communicate those words and what we do with our body create engagement, stimulation and above all meaning when we speak. As a whole. It’s not one without the other and we can’t not use body language – however we deliver, people interpret some of our messages through the way we say it, not just what we say.
So, it’s more helpful to think about what meaning would we like people to take away and ensure that the words, the pauses, the voice, and the movements are congruent. At a simple level that means if we say we are excited about something – look excited! If we say something is important, that should be clear in the way we hold our selves and our facial expressions.
At a more complex level, I believe it means that we need to be fully present when delivering our presentation but also when we are rehearsing our presentation. When we believe in what we say, and we say it and are immersed in it at the moment of delivery, then our body will follow. The energy and meaning behind the words can express themselves powerfully and often naturally. And it will show in the way we use the space around, above and behind us. In the facial expressions and intensity of eye contact. In the way our hands become animated (not agitated). The way our steps are dynamic, not distracting.
That said, there are some simple and effective ways of building your skill and confidence when it comes to dynamic body language.
- If you are going to move, move with purpose and on purpose. Think what purposeful hand gesture would illustrate your point. What purposeful stride might support your content?
- Practice. It sounds obvious but many people practice the words only and often this is inside their heads. Practice and train your body to live the words you are saying – to support you, to reinforce meaning, to complement your message and to make clear your purpose
Of course, feedback is a great way of helping get better at this part of presenting – give me a call if you think I may be able to help.