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Body Language Affects Your Public Speaking Presentation

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Body language and gestures account for a whopping 55% of any type of conversation or public presentation that you perform. Vocal expression 38% and your words are only 8% ! Gestures are important for many reasons including coordinating comprehension centers of the brain.If your gestures are incongruent with your words it will confuse the listener’s brain and you will be not be as credible. Body language also serves as a means to further accentuate your Continue reading “Body Language Affects Your Public Speaking Presentation” »

15 Body Language Secrets of Successful People

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Our bodies have a language of their own, and their words aren’t always kind. Your body language has likely become an integral part of who you are, to the point where you might not even think about it.

If that’s the case, it’s time to start, because you could be sabotaging your career.

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). These people know the power that unspoken signals have in communication and they monitor their own body language accordingly.

What follows are the 15 most common body language blunders that people make, and emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid.

  1. Slouching is a sign of disrespect. It communicates that you’re bored and have no desire to be where you are. You would never tell your boss, “I don’t understand why I have to listen to you,” but if you slouch, you don’t have to—your body says it for you, loud and clear.

The brain is hardwired to equate power with the amount of space people take up. Standing up straight with your shoulders back is a power position. It maximizes the amount of space you fill. Slouching, on the other hand, is the result of collapsing your form—it takes up less space and projects less power.

Maintaining good posture commands respect and promotes engagement from both ends of the conversation.

  1. Exaggerated gestures can imply that you’re stretching the truth. Aim for small, controlled gestures to indicate leadership and confidence, and open gestures—like spreading your arms apart or showing the palms of your hands—to communicate that you have nothing to hide.
  2. Watching the clock while talking to someone is a clear sign of disrespect, impatience, and inflated ego. It sends the message that you have better things to do than talk to the person you’re with, and that you’re anxious to leave them.
  3. Turning yourself away from others, or not leaning into your conversation, portrays that you are unengaged, uninterested, uncomfortable, and perhaps even distrustful of the person speaking.

Try leaning in towards the person who is speaking and tilt your head slightly as you listen to them speak. This shows the person speaking that they have your complete focus and attention.

  1. Crossed arms—and crossed legs, to some degree—are physical barriers that suggest you’re not open to what the other person is saying. Even if you’re smiling or engaged in a pleasant conversation, the other person may get a nagging sense that you’re shutting him or her out.

Even if folding your arms feels comfortable, resist the urge to do so if you want people to see you as open-minded and interested in what they have to say.

  1. Inconsistency between your words and your facial expression causes people to sense that something isn’t right and they begin to suspect that you’re trying to deceive them, even if they don’t know exactly why or how.

For example, a nervous smile while rejecting an offer during a negotiation won’t help you get what you want; it will just make the other person feel uneasy about working with you because they’ll assume that you’re up to something.

  1. Exaggerated nodding signals anxiety about approval. People may perceive your heavy nods as an attempt to show you agree with or understand something that you actually don’t.

 

  1. Fidgeting with or fixing your hair signals that you’re anxious, over-energized, self-conscious, and distracted. People will perceive you as overly concerned with your physical appearance and not concerned enough with your career.
  2. Avoiding eye contact makes it look like you have something to hide, and that arouses suspicion. Lack of eye contact can also indicate a lack of confidence and interest, which you never want to communicate in a business setting.

Looking down as you talk makes it seem like you lack confidence or are self-conscious, causing your words to lose their effect. It’s especially important to keep your eyes level if you’re making complicated or important points.

Sustained eye contact, on the other hand, communicates confidence, leadership, strength, and intelligence. While it is possible to be engaged without direct, constant eye contact, complete negligence will clearly have negative effects on your professional relationships.

  1. Eye contact that’s too intense may be perceived as aggressive, or an attempt to dominate. On average, Americans hold eye contact for seven to ten seconds, longer when we’re listening than when we’re talking. The way we break contact sends a message, too. Glancing down communicates submission, while looking to the side projects confidence.
  2. Rolling your eyes is a fail-proof way to communicate lack of respect. Fortunately, while it may be a habit, it’s voluntary. You can control it, and it’s worth the effort.
  3. Scowling or having a generally unhappy expression sends the message that you’re upset by those around you, even if they have nothing to do with your mood. Scowls turn people away, as they feel judged.

Smiling, however, suggests that you’re open, trustworthy, confident, and friendly. MRI studies have shown that the human brain responds favorably to a person who’s smiling, and this leaves a lasting positive impression.

  1. Weak handshakes signal that you lack authority and confidence, while a handshake that is too strong could be perceived as an aggressive attempt at domination, which is just as bad. Adapt your handshake to each person and situation, but make sure it’s always firm.
  2. Clenched fists, much like crossed arms and legs, can signal that you’re not open to other people’s points. It can also make you look argumentative and defensive, which will make people nervous about interacting with you.
  3. Getting too close. If you stand too close to someone (nearer than one and a half feet), it signals that you have no respect for or understanding of personal space. This will make people very uncomfortable when they’re around you.

Bringing It All Together

Avoiding these body language blunders will help you form stronger relationships, both professionally and personally.

By Dr. Travis Bradberry

How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

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public speaking skills

Public speaking skills are valuable both in your personal life and career. Even if you don’t regularly engage in public speaking, developing skills in this area will increase your confidence and reduce anxiety about situations in which you may be called upon to speak in public. Below are some key skills held by good public speakers.

Public speaking skill #1: Stage Presence

Good public speakers appear confident, friendly, enthusiastic and energetic.

Confidence comes from choosing a topic you like and researching it well. Friendliness can be conveyed simply by smiling at your audience. Enthusiasm and energy will naturally follow when you enjoy your topic and are well prepared.

If you feel that your stage presence is lacking, take some time and view clips of speakers that you admire. Aim to imitate their style. If you are adequately prepared, there isn’t any reason why you can’t “fake it ’til you make it”. In other words, act confident until you feel confident.

Public speaking skill #2: Voice Control

Your voice is the most important tool you will use as a public speaker. One key skill to improve the quality of your voice is to practice diaphragmatic breathing; breathing from your diaphragm instead of your chest. Doing so will reduce the feeling of breathlessness caused by speech anxiety. In addition, this type of breathing will allow you to better control the tone (quality), pitch (high or low) and volume of your voice.

Public speaking skill #3: Body Language

It is not enough to practice how you will speak to your audience.

It is also important to consider your body language and the message that it conveys. In general, you should practice standing with a relaxed upright posture. Your hands should be at your sides or clasped in front of you, unless you are making a gesture to emphasize a point. Become aware of your facial expressions as well; they should match the message you are delivering.

 

Public speaking skill #4: Delivery

When it comes to public speaking, delivery is everything. Even if you have a great voice and good body language, your message will get lost if the audience can’t easily follow what you say. Below are some tips for developing good delivery skills.

  • Speak slowly and deliberately; it should seem too slow to you.
  • Pause between ideas.
  • Carefully articulate and pronounce your words
  • Avoid filler sounds like “Um” and “ah”
  • Vary the pitch and volume of your voice to add interest

Public speaking skill #5: Audience Relations

Good public speakers are in tune with their audience. Public speaking is more than standing in front of a group and talking. Acknowledge your audience right away and begin talking as soon as all eyes are on you; similarly, if you need to set up equipment, converse with your audience at the same time to keep their attention. Make eye contact and watch for communication from the audience. Smiles and nodding are good; fidgeting or confused looks may mean that you need to adjust what you are doing.

What is the bottom line? Remember that the goal of public speaking is to deliver a message. In addition to the above skills, you need to be connected to your material. When you are knowledgeable and speak with passion, both you and the audience will have a more enjoyable experience.

 

By Arlin Cuncic

Social Anxiety Disorder Expert