You communicate most loudly with something that’s non-verbal. It’s your body language. In fact, studies show 60-70% of your believability comes from your body language which is a much higher percentage than the words you say or even how you say them. The beauty of positive body language is it can be learned and you can become natural at it especially if you know some good ways to get started.
If the studies say that your highest form of credibility comes from body language here are ways to ensure yours is positive, especially during a presentation:
- Standing is optimum. Sitting or standing behind a podium conceals at least 50% of you which robs you of your most powerful way of communicating and robs your audience of receiving your communication in the way you want it to be perceived. More energy is conveyed while standing not only because they can see you but people respond to others who come across as alive and energetic. I’ll save sitting body language for another topic since there are circumstances when it’s unavoidable.
- Stand up tall and ground yourself by standing with your legs shoulder or hip width apart, weight evenly distributed. This gives you a solid foundation which gives your audience even more reason to trust what you say.
- Take advantage of the space around you. Use your hands, arms and elbows to help illustrate your points (within reason, of course). You do not have to gesture as dramatically as an opera singer but explore your full range based on the size of your audience and venue. If you are an athlete, take exercise classes, yoga or Pilates try some moves at home to experiment with how it makes you look and feel to use your hands and arms more expressively.
- Engage! Look at the folks you want to influence in the eye and connect with them. When your message sinks in you can get a slight nod of the head or an eye blink – you will be able to tell that the message was received. If someone advises you that good eye contact involves looking above their heads to the back of the room or counting to 5 as you make eye contact that can come across as being ridged, a stare down and well…silly.
- If you can be videotaped while presenting take advantage of it. It will show you how you come across to others versus what you think you are portraying with your body language.
Strong positive body language helps your listeners focus more intently on you and what you are saying. Spend some time on improving the one area that speaks louder than words and the beauty of it all, its learnable and once you feel it you instantly improve.