Public speaking is an art that takes many years to master. Many think that the most critical aspect lies in the words, but that’s not all that goes into effective public speech.
Adding BODY To Your Public Speaking Skills
- B – Breath control
- O – Open posture
- D – Dynamic gestures
- Y – Your voice
Let’s look at the acronym BODY to review four body language tips and techniques to help you take your public speaking skills to the next level!
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#1. Breath Control
Public speaking is one of the most challenging things you can do. Professionals can make it look so effortless, but there are so many of us that suffer from stage fright. It can be hard enough to even muster up the courage to step under those bright lights!
I’ve been a professional corporate emcee for years, but I still remember how long it took me to feel comfortable on stage. It takes countless hours of practice and complete dedication to become a true master in the field.
Public speaking isn’t for the faint of heart. And whoever wants to speak in front of an audience must be prepared to hone their craft.
The Power Of Non-Verbal Communication
To be a great speaker, you first need to understand that public speaking is about much more than speaking. Only a tiny portion of your act will come from your verbal communication.
The rest comes from something known as non-verbal communication.
Non-verbal communication is primarily how we communicate with the world around us. We share this type of communication through our dress, tone, and even eye contact. However, anything we don’t say out loud can still be used to communicate.
In public speaking, any type of non-verbal message plays a crucial role. At first glance, you may assume that most of your communication with your audience will come from your script.
But your audience will also respond to your non-verbal cues.
Identifying Nonverbal Cues
Non-verbal communication means using body language, facial expressions, and tone to convey your message. It can also help you connect with your audience members more deeply.
Non-verbal cues can help you establish rapport with your audience as a speaker. For example, you can create a more engaging and interactive presentation using appropriate facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice.
It can also help you better convey emotions. For example, things like joy and sadness can be more easily shown when you use the proper tone of voice or facial expressions.
Working On Your Breath
You need to focus on your body language to improve your public speaking skills. This is the biggest part of your nonverbal communication that will play a big part in your success.
For example, if you’re delivering a persuasive speech, you can’t expect your audience to agree with you if you don’t know how to properly use body language. If you’re fidgety, you might come across as untrustworthy.
However, knowing how to apply good body language can be challenging at first.
One tip that can help you improve your public speaking skills is to work on your breathing. Breathwork actually has many significant benefits for all parts of life, but it can be especially beneficial for helping your public speaking skills reach the next level.
Most people can deliver great speaking and body language while practicing at home. Everyone knows that feeling when you nail the presentation in your own company.
But often, the trouble lies in replicating that perfection on stage when the nerves take over.
Fighting The Effects Of On-Stage Nerves
Everyone has felt some sort of stage nervousness at times. And it can manifest in ways that are visible to your audience.
For example, it can show up as nervous swaying, stuttering, or frantic breathing. But working on controlling your breath can help you deliver better body language and calm those pesky nerves.
Taking deep breaths can help to reduce anxiety and nervousness associated with public speaking. And that can be truly valuable in the long run.
Even if you’re generally not prone to stage fright, there comes a time for everyone when you melt on the event stage and your nervous habits break out.
When you take deep breaths, you provide your body with more oxygen, which helps to calm your nerves and reduce stress. Additionally, deep breathing can help regulate your voice, allowing you to project more clearly and effectively.
#2. Open Posture And The Finer Details
When focusing on improving body language, you likely have already tried to better your posture. Posture is one of the first things many people notice about others, on stage or otherwise.
When we see people with a hunched-over posture, we automatically and subconsciously assume they have lower-self confidence. However, people with an open posture show pride and self-assurance. And this is truly needed for anyone planning to speak on stage!
Maintaining an open posture is the foundation of great body language. It conveys confidence and openness to your audience while making you appear more approachable.
Focus on standing tall with your shoulders back and your arms at your sides. This posture lets you convey a more confident and relaxed demeanor.
Facial Expressions And Eye Contact
If you’re focusing on posture, don’t forget to pay attention to the other details of your body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience and use facial expressions properly.
Smile when you want to show happiness, raise your eyebrows when you wish to raise suspense, and purse your lips if you want to convey suspicion. And through it all, maintain eye contact!
Bonus: The Difference Between Inspiration & Motivation In Public Speaking
#3. Dynamic Gestures
If you’re on stage, odds are you won’t be standing still. Things like eye contact and breathwork are good at any moment in time, but they can also be done if you’re standing stiffly. And someone who stands like a scarecrow on stage won’t be any good as a public speaker.
You need to take control of the stage and your actions to improve your public speaking. In addition, you need to be physically present, and one way to do this is by incorporating dynamic gestures into your act.
Gestures can include hand movements, facial expressions, and body language. But you need to focus on the keyword here, which is dynamic.
Executing Your Gestures In The Right Way
Tell a story with how you move your hands and ensure it flows in time with your speech. Dynamic gestures can help break up the monotony, make your presentation more engaging, and help you emphasize key points.
However, being mindful of overusing or inappropriately using gestures is essential. For example, no one wants to watch someone wildly waving their hands around like a bird.
Be mindful, purposeful, and appropriate. Ensure that any gestures you use add to your act, not draw focus away from what’s important.
How To Eliminate Bad Body Language In Public Speaking
Most things in life have good aspects and bad aspects. And body language is no different. However, there are specific types of negative body language that you should avoid when stepping on stage to ensure your speech is a success.
Things like nervous fidgeting, swaying, or awkward expressions can devastate any speaker. So make sure you practice your stage presence and pay attention to what good body posture looks like.
#4. Your Voice And Tone
Improving your body language isn’t just about how you physically behave on stage. It also encompasses the tone of your voice, making sure it is fitting and appropriate, and ultimately sets you up for success.
In fact, your voice is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal as a speaker. And not because of the words you say but rather how you say them.
Your speech’s tone, volume, and pace can all impact how your audience perceives your message. Saying something slowly places more emphasis on the words, while saying something with rapid excitement shows eagerness.
Make sure you pace your speech right. Speak clearly and confidently so your audience can follow your presentation, and avoid speaking too fast or soft.
Maintain the right about of volume and confidence as you speak, and vary it slightly as necessary. Ensure your change of pace won’t confuse your audience, and don’t alter your tone too much to annoy your listeners.
There’s a fine balance when it comes to finding the right tone of voice, but it’s important to find it!
Improving your public speaking is a long journey that will take time and effort. It won’t perfect itself in a day, but the things you learn along the way will make you a better public speaker because of it!
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Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.