People worry about what to say at their presentation, how to say it, and how to engage the audience. But the spoken word is just one part of it. The main part, admittedly, but the other is your physical shape and movement (oh, and you can forget that idea of only 7% of your communication comes from the words you say, that’s a myth created by misunderstanding the work of Albert Mehrabian).
When speaking, your physical movement is very important – crucially, a congruence between your body language and the words you say can gain the audience’s trust.
Two Simple Phrases to Get You Started
A big smile. I covered this in a recent post imaginatively entitled ‘Nail the Presentation – Start Well‘, where it’s your most valuable weapon. This, accompanied by a nice big, friendly “Hello” and an apparent interest in the audience will set you up nicely. Shoulders back, welcoming arms. Engage them! The big smile oils the wheels of social interaction.
‘Opening’ your body by spreading your arms, palms towards the audience, makes you vulnerable but open, allowing you to connect to the audience. You’re showing confidence and establishing trust (‘closing’ your body by folding your arms may feel secure but you look closed, breaking your connection to the audience. You’re showing fear and a lack of trust).
When I did stand-up, I found that confidence was a big trick, at least when stepping onto the stage. It was bravado; this created a happy audience, who I then fed from like a needy symbiote. I also found that the greater emotion I put into each line, the bigger the laughs. The more you convey your emotions, the greater the impact.
Use your body language to emphasise and illustrate what you’re talking about. You’re the medium, not those stupid slides.