Successful presenters are fluent in two languages: the verbal language they speak and the body language they employ to reinforce their message and polish their image. Follow these basic rules to improve your body language:
- Increase your physical space. Do not box yourself in. You limit your impact when you hunch over or compress your legs and torso. Project confidence instead by standing straight and tall.
- Keep your chin up. That projects your openness and your confidence. Build that habit, also, for an easy way to remember to make eye contact.
- Stand evenly. You should not lean forward or to either side. When you plant your weight evenly on both feet, you make a straightforward impression that subtly enhances your reputation.
- Move deliberately. Avoid both quick, jerky motions and sluggish body motion. When you go to speak, for example, stride confidently to the podium with a bounce in your step and a smile on your lips.
- Relax your hands. Nervous speakers clasp their hands in front of them, below waist level. That projects insecurity and a lack of confidence. Keep your hands at your sides, in a relaxed posture, unless you are making deliberate gestures above waist level.
- Skip the fidgets. Monitor your motions to identify and replace nervous fidgeting. Do not fiddle with your eyeglasses, notes, pens or laser pointer. Keep your hands out of your pockets to avoid the temptation to rattle your change or your keys.
- Coordinate your words and your nonverbal cues. Adjust your posture, mannerisms and movement to communicate your message more powerfully and with greater credibility. If you are delivering an upbeat, positive message, for instance, you should nod and smile instead of shaking your head and frowning. However small those gestures, listeners will notice them and feel confused.
— Adapted from Fearless and Flawless Public Speaking With Power, Polish and Pizazz, Mary-Ellen Drummond, Pfeiffer & Co., www.pfeiffer.com.