On Presentations: Effective Body Language

February 6, 2012
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Giving a presentation is not always about what you say; it’s how you don’t say it that makes the most impact. Body language is the physical expression of how humans communicate, and it has a significant bearing on presentations. A Harvard University article on a study of human body language says. “being able to read “nonverbal communication”—body language—is essential in business dealings.” A basic concept from Dale Carnegie says that. “Voice inflection, facial expressions, and body language can make up over 90% of your message. Presentations are strengthened when you improve vocal range, such as projection, diction, pacing, and pitch; and body language including, posture, gestures, facial expressions, and purposeful movement.”

Thinking about the last time you had to present information in front of others for a moment  – did you keep your audience’s attention or did they seem to be bored? It could be that you need to brush up on your body language skills in order to become a more effective presenter. Here are some tips for effective body language when giving presentations.

Your Posture  – How you carry yourself has bearing on how others perceive you in regular conversation as well as when giving presentations. In order to give the best impression, it’s important to sit or stand up straight and keep your head level with your body. Avoid slouching or slumping at the shoulders or the waist, which can be the signs of not being confident. A good posture also helps you to project your voice into the room, because your diaphragm is not obstructed.

Facial Expressions – Have you ever looked in the mirror to watch your facial expressions? If you have sometimes watched people frown in the room around you as you speak, it’s likely that you are doing the same. That’s because from the time we are born, humans will mimic each other’s facial expressions when communicating face to face. To quell this and put a more positive spin on your presentations, be sure to make an effort to smile when speaking in groups and do so in a natural way.

Purposeful Movement – As you venture into doing live presentations, be sure to use all your space on the stage or the room as a whole. To remain behind a podium or desk the whole time tells others you are intimidated and this does not go over well with an audience. Instead, walk around, make eye contact with listeners, smile and use your space up. You’ll own the room and the presentation if you establish a strong physical presence.

Hands and Arms  – No one ever knows what to do with hands and arms during a presentation, feeling awkward with sweaty palms. This is where good props come into place. Take the time to grab a couple of small objects that emphasize your main points of the presentation. For example, a piece of fruit or a stress ball can be good props when displayed like a showroom item. (think The Price is Right TV show). Use these objects to make your presentation more fun, and you’ll keep your hands and arms busy at the same time.

Want to learn more about making your presentations better? Be sure to check out the Dale Carnegie course High Impact Presentations based on the sounds principles that have made thousands of business pros successful.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Alabama, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Huntsville, Alabama. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @DaleCarnegieALA

 

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