I speak two languages: English and body.
- Mae West
Searching the web, you’ll find that body language is important. Some sources say it’s 80% of communication, others 30%. Regardless of the actual number, body language is important. Even Mae West knew it’s a language in its own right.
DON’T: Close your eyes or avoid eye contact. Avoiding eye contact makes you look insincere and a liar, something you definitely don’t want.
DO: Make eye contact with people in the audience. You can demand someone’s attention just by looking them in the eye, a powerful tool everyone who ever got the evil eye from a teacher will know.
DON’T: Forget to smile.
DO: A real smile can brighten your day. So the opposite is true too. Smiling at your audience makes them feel better about you and your presentation.
DON’T: Look like you’ve got a stiff neck.
DO: Look around the room and nod. When you nod during one of your main points, people in your audience will subconsciously start nodding along and agreeing with you.
DON’T: Cross your arms.
DO: Open your arms and spread them out. This makes you seem more open and confident. It shows your audience you’re comfortable using the physical space you need.
DON’T: Fidget. Fidgeting makes you seem nervous and unprofessional. Conversely, putting your hands in your pocket makes you seem like you’re waiting in line at the bakery instead of presenting.
DO: Use your hand while talking to put emphasis on your main message. Literally underline your words, emphasise your speaking tempo with gestures and point at important things in your slides (but not everything of course).
DON’T: Crossing your legs is just as bad as crossing your arms, and makes it look like you need to go to the bathroom.
DO: Stand tall and straight. Your legs should be straight, and your feet should be placed about as wide as your shoulders. This ‘power pose’ is used by CEO’s and generals for a reason.
DON’T: Pace back and forth, you don’t want to send your audience home with a neck ache. On the other side of the spectrum, standing still makes you look like a talking statue.
DO: Use the space around you to your advantage, make across the stage, so everyone in the audience feels personally addressed at some point during your presentation.