Sunday, 28 July 2013

Body language: the key to communication

Hi all,
For my 4th blog I thought I would share some secrets about public speaking and body language. Most people don;t know that your body communicates over 50% of your message. In fact, it is 55% to 70% of your message.

That means what you do with your posture, face, eyes, hands, gestures, feet and movements tell your audience more than the words.It also means that you need to make sure all of these non verbal communication aspects work for you. They need to be deliberate and purposeful. They need to be relaxed and in keeping with what you are saying, so they enhance your message, not detract from it.

Let's look at posture. Posture means that you walk on tall and straight. You stand in front of the audience, looking pleased to be there (even if you are nervous) and you do not rush to begin. Your back should be straight, hands relaxed by your sides and you need to smile!

Once you start to talk, your body should help you, especially gestures. This means if you want to illustrate something, the hands might come up to show what you mean, whether it's numbers or directions or the shape of something. You do not have to make gestures, but if you do, make sure they are definite and relevant. What you MUST avoid, are gestures you do not intend to make: pulling on clothes, penguin gestures, or hands in pockets. All these will communicate negatively. They will detract from your presentation, not help it.

Then there is eye contact. Eye contact needs to be on the eyes of the audience, every time you speak. If you find it too difficult to look them in the eye, you can look at their third eye. If the audience is large, say over 200 people, look at sections at a time. However, you cannot look behind the audience, at the ceiling, at the floor or out the window. That will lose your audience, very quickly. Generally it is a couple of words to each person and your eyes should move like a lazer beam. Do not scan a room and do not move your eyes so quickly that you look like a frightened rabbit!

Facial expressions are vital. The main rule is that the face should reflect the mood of what you are saying. Your face needs to smile when you are delivering good news or saying something positive. Likewise, it needs to loo sad when the topic is sad.This maybe obvious, but I have seen people (out of nerves, usually) smile or even laugh when they are saying something supposedly serious. It looks stupid.

Keep movements to a minimum. Only move slowly and deliberately. Only move keeping your body facing the audience. Then move backwards to your original spot. If you need to use Power Point, only flash your eyes to the monitor, not to the screen..The only time to move from one side of the stage to another, is if you are speaking to a large audience and there are thousands of people out there.

Finally, your feet need to be still, not rocking, crossed over or shuffling. Keep them planted firmly on the floor and about a foot apart.

There is much more to body language than meets the eye! AS it communicates so much of your message, make sure it supports you and does not contradict what you say. If there is a contradiction, your audience will believe your body.

Finally, to get rid of unfortunate habits, like blushing, shaking and sweating, tell your body to relax. If you say to it:"Don't shake!" it will shake more, So just talk to it nicely. When you are not sure what to do with your hands, leave them relaxed by your sides. When you are ready and confident, they will just come up and work for you.

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