Your body language, nonverbal cues, tell a lot about how you perform at a job, career and on stage as a public speaker. Research suggests that nonverbal cues are more important than verbal ones. I came across one study that spoke about body language comprising 55% of the force of any response, whereas the verbal content only provides 7%, and “paralanguage,” or the intonation, pauses, and sighs given when answering or speaking, represents 38% of the emphasis.
Our schools put more emphasis on the spoken word. I suggest you learn to use a few simple tips to accentuate your body language as a public speaker or even interview for a job:
- Always lean forward. You will appear to be an interested listener. Leaning back projects lack of confidence.
- Never look down. Maintain eye control at all times. This creates openness and honesty. As a speaker, face your audience left of center, right of center and center.
- Have a relaxed, open posture with your arms in a comfortable position. Don’t fold your arms — this makes you appear hostile.
- Make sure your facial expressions match your message. If you are speaking about something very sad, don’t smile! However, do smile when you are talking about something upbeat and positive.
- If you want to appear confident and expressive, strive for a posture that is free and natural to your speaking style.
- You can practice your stance by standing with your feet less than shoulder-width apart. Stand tall, not slouched.
- And never put your hands in your pockets. Men often do this and even jingle their change. This is a No, No.
- Want to practice your body language? Use a mirror and better yet, get a friend to take video footage of your talk.
- Finally, don’t overdo your hand gestures. I have seen some speakers who constantly flail their hands around – this is distracting and annoying. If you have a tendency to do this, use a hand-held microphone to keep your hands busy.
This is a guest blog post by Sandra Schrift, president/owner of CoachSchrift and Associates, a San Diego based consulting, training and coaching firm. Since 1996, Sandra has been coaching speakers who want to become highly paid professional speakers as well as executives and business professionals who want to develop persuasive presentations.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.