What your body language during presentation says about you! Do’s and Don’ts! Let’s learn the best tips with AhaSlides!
Got awkward hands syndrome? You probably don’t, because I just made that up. BUT – we all have moments when we don’t know what to do with our hands, legs, or any part of our body. It’s possible that you have an amazing icebreaker, impeccable introduction, and great presentation, but the delivery is where it matters most. You don’t know what to do with yourself and it’s perfectly normal.
To what extent do you know about a successful presentation? Aside from well-designed PowerPoint templates, it is important to utilize other performance skills, especially Body language.
Now that you have already known that body language is an irreplaceable part of presentation skills, it is still far from mastering these skills to deliver effective presentations.
In this article, we will give you a holistic view of body language and how to take advantage of these skills for your perfect presentations.
Importance of body language during a presentation
When it comes to communication, we mention verbal and non-verbal terms. It is crucial to bear in mind that these terms have a relative relationship. Hence, what it is?
Verbal communication is the use of words to share information with other people, which includes both spoken and written language. For example, the word “how’s it going” that you choose to let others understand what you are trying to greet them.
Nonverbal communication is the transfer of information through body language, facial expressions, gestures, created space, and more. For example, smiling when you meet someone conveys friendliness, acceptance, and openness.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, when you interact with others, you’re constantly giving and receiving wordless signals besides talking. All of your nonverbal behaviors—your posture, your intonation, the gestures you make, and how much eye contact you make—deliver strong messages.
In particular, they can either put people at ease, build trust, and draw attention, or they may offend and bewilder what you are attempting to express. These messages don’t stop when you stop speaking either. Even when you’re silent, you’re still communicating nonverbally.
Similarly, a presentation is also a way of communicating with your audience, while you are speaking up about your idea, show body language to emphasize it. Thus, understanding the importance of non-verbal and verbal communication skills simultaneously will help you avoid dull presentations.
To make it much clearer, we go to explore elements of body language, literally a part of non-verbal communication skills. Body language comprises gestures, stances, and facial expression. When you are presenting, strong, positive body language becomes a powerful instrument for assisting you to build credibility, express your emotions, and connect with your listeners. It also assists your listeners to concentrate more intently on you and your speech. Here, we give you 10+ language body examples and tips to leverage your
10 Tips to master Body Language in Presentations
Consider Your Appearance
First of all, it is essential to have a neat and tidy look when you do presentations. Depending on which occasion, you may have to prepare the appropriate outfit and well-groomed hair to show your professionalism and respect to your listeners.
Think about the type and style of the event, they may have a strict dress code. Choose an outfit that you’re much more likely to feel poised and confident in front of an audience. Avoid colors or accessories or jewelry that might distract the audience, make noise or cause glare under stage lights.
Smile, and Smile Again
When smiling, don’t forget to “smile with your eyes,” instead of just your mouth. It would help to make others feel your warmth and sincerity. Remember to maintain the smile even after an encounter—in fake happiness encounters, you may often see an “on-off” smile that flashes and then vanishes quickly after two people go their separate directions.
Open Your Palms
When gesturing with your hands, make sure your hands are open most of the time and people can see your open palms. It is also a good idea to keep the palms facing upward most of the time, rather than downward.
Make Eye Contact
It is necessary to find a sweet spot for “long enough” to look at your listeners without being offensive or creepy. Give it a try to look at others for about 2 seconds to lessen awkwardness and nervousness. Don’t look at your notes the whole time to make more connections with your listeners.
When you want to conclude a meeting or end an interaction with someone, you may find these gestures awfully helpful. If you want to appear confident, you can even use this cue but with your thumbs stuck out—this signals confidence instead of stress.
Around close friends and trusted others, it’s totally fine to relax your hands in your pockets once in a while. But if you want to make the other feel a bit insecure for whatever reason, sticking your hands deep in your pockets is a surefire way to do it!
Touching the ear, or a self-soothing gesture subconsciously takes place when a person is in a status of anxiety. But do you know that it is a good help when you encounter harsh questions from audiences, touching your ear when thinking of solutions may make your overall posture more natural.
Don’t Point Your Finger
Whatever you do, don’t point. Just make sure you never do it. Pointing a finger while talking is taboo in many cultures, not only in presentations. People always find it aggressive and uncomfortable, offensive somehow.
Control your Voice
In any presentation, speak slowly and clearly. When you want to underline the main points, you may speak even more slowly and repeat them. Intonation is necessary, let your voice raise up and down to make you sound natural. Sometimes just say nothing for a while to have better communication.
It is fine to move around or stay in one spot when you are presenting. Yet, don’t overuse it, avoid walking back and forth all the time. Walk when you intend to engage the audience or while you are telling a funny story or while the audience is laughing
4 Body Gestures Tips
In this article we’ll spell out some quick tips on body language and how to develop your presentation skills, regarding:
- Eye contact
- Hands & Shoulders
- Back & Head
You’re body language is crucial because it not only makes you look more confident, powerful, and collected, but you will also end up feeling these things too.
Eyes – Body Language During Presentation
DON’T avoid eye contact like it’s the plague. A lot of people don’t know how to make eye contact and are taught to stare at the back wall or someone’s forehead. People can tell when you’re not looking at them and will perceive you to be nervous and distant. I was one of those presenters, because I thought public speaking was the same as acting. When I did theater productions in high school, they encouraged us to look at the back wall and to not engage with the audience because it would take them out of the fantasy world we were creating. I learned the hard way that acting is not the same as public speaking. There are similar aspects, but you don’t want to block the audience out of your presentation – you want to include them, so why would you pretend they aren’t there?
On the other hand, some people are taught to look at just one person which is also a bad habit. Staring at one individual the entire time will make them very uncomfortable and that atmosphere will distract the other audience members as well.
DO connect with people like you would a normal conversation. How do expect people to want to engage with you if they don’t feel seen? One of the most useful presentation skills I’ve learned from Nicole Dieker is that people love attention! Take time to connect with your audience. When people feel that a presenter cares about them, they feel important and encouraged to share in your emotion. Shift your focus to different audience members, to foster an inclusive environment. Especially engage with those already looking at you. Nothing is worse than staring down someone looking at their phone or program.
Use as much eye contact as you would when talking to a friend. Public speaking is the same, just on a larger scale and with more people.
Hands – Body Language During Presentation
DON’T restrict yourself or think too much about it. There are so many ways to hold your hands incorrectly, like behind your back (which comes off as militaristic and formal), below your belt (limiting movement), or stiffly by your sides (which feels awkward). Definitely don’t cross your arms as this comes off as defensive and aloof. Most importantly, don’t over-gesture! This will not only become exhausting, but the audience will begin to fixate on how tired you must be rather than the content of your presentation. Make your presentation easy to watch, and therefore, easy to understand.
DO rest your hands at a neutral position. This will be a bit above your belly button. The most successful looking neutral position is either holding one hand in another, or simply just touching them together in whatever way your hands would naturally. Hands, arms, and shoulders are the most important visual cue for the audience. You should gesture, just like your typical body language in a regular conversation. Don’t be a robot!
Below is a quick video by Steve Bavister, and I recommend you watch it to visualize what I just described.
Legs – Body Language During Presentation
DON’T lock your legs and stand still. Not only is it dangerous, but it also makes you look uncomfortable (making the audience uncomfortable). And no one likes to feel uncomfortable! The blood will start to pool in your legs, and without any movement, the blood will have a hard time recirculating to the heart. This makes you susceptible to passing out and that would definitely be … you guessed it … uncomfortable. On the contrary, don’t move your legs too much. I’ve been to a few presentations where the speaker is rocking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and I paid so much attention to this distracting behavior that I totally forgot what he was talking about!
DO use your legs as an extension of your hand gestures. If you want to make a statement that connects with your audience, take a step forward. If you want to give space for thought after an astounding statement, take a step back. There is a balance it it all. Think of the stage as a single plane – you shouldn’t turn your back on the audience. Walk in a way that is inclusive of all people in the space and move around so you can be visible from every seat.
Back – Body Language During Presentation
DON’T fold into yourself with slouched shoulders, drooping head, and curved neck. People have subconscious biases against this form of body language and will begin to question your capability as a presenter if you project as a defensive, self-conscious, and insecure speaker. Even if you don’t identify with these descriptors, your body will surely show it.
DO convince them of your confidence with your posture. Stand straight like your head is connected to a taught string attached to the ceiling. If your body language portrays confidence, you will become confident. You will be surprised by how little adjustments will improve or worsen your speech delivery. Try using these presentation skills in the mirror and see for yourself!
Lastly, if you have confidence in your presentation – you’re body language will improve drastically. Your body will reflect how proud you are of your visuals and preparedness. AhaSlides is a great tool to use if you want to become a more confident presenter and WOW your audience with real-time interactive tools they can access while you’re presenting. Best part? It’s free!
So, what does body language during presentation say about you? Let’s take advantage of our tips and consider how you can incorporate them into your presentation. Don’t hesitate to practice in front of the mirror at home or with a familiar audience and ask for feedback. Practice makes perfect. You’ll be able to master your body language and get favourable outcomes from your presentation.
Extra tip: For a virtual online presentation, or wearing a mask, you may encounter difficulties to show body language, you can think of leveraging your presentation template to capture the audience’s attention with 100+ AhaSlides types of presentation templates.