So much of our communication when giving a speech or presentation is actually non-verbal. Our body, facial expressions, gestures, posture and eye contact all make an enormous difference to the way we are perceived. Getting it right means making a positive impact. But getting it wrong can mean being forgotten.
So what are the body language mistakes to avoid if you want to be remembered by your audience?
- Poor eye contact:
Failing to make and maintain eye contact with the audience can make the speaker appear disinterested, untrustworthy, or lacking in confidence. It’s essential to engage with the audience by making eye contact throughout the speech.
- Closed body language:
Crossing arms, clasping hands, or holding objects in front of the body can create a barrier between the speaker and the audience, making them appear defensive or closed off.
Excessive fidgeting, such as tapping feet, twirling hair, or constantly adjusting clothing, can be distracting to the audience and indicate a lack of confidence or nervousness.
- Lack of facial expressions:
A speaker who maintains a neutral or blank facial expression throughout their speech may appear unenthusiastic or uninterested in their topic, making it difficult for the audience to connect with them emotionally.
- Slouched posture:
Standing with a slouched posture or hunched shoulders can make the speaker appear unconfident and unprofessional. It’s essential to maintain an upright posture with shoulders back and head held high to project confidence and authority.
- Pacing or swaying:
Excessive pacing or swaying back and forth while speaking can distract the audience and indicate nervousness. Instead, aim for purposeful movements and use gestures to emphasize key points.
- Speaking too fast:
Speaking too quickly can make it difficult for the audience to follow and understand the speaker’s message, and may also indicate nervousness. Practicing proper pacing and enunciation is crucial for effective communication.
- Overuse of filler words:
Relying on filler words such as “um,” “uh,” “like,” and “you know” can make the speaker appear unprepared or uncertain. Focus on eliminating these words from your speech to appear more confident and polished.
- Inappropriate or excessive gestures:
Using inappropriate gestures, such as pointing fingers or aggressive hand movements, can alienate the audience and detract from the message. Similarly, excessive gesturing can be distracting. Aim for natural, purposeful gestures that support and emphasize your message.
- Lack of audience engagement: Failing to acknowledge and interact with the audience can make the speaker appear disconnected and uninterested in their concerns or opinions. Encourage audience participation by asking questions, soliciting feedback, or incorporating anecdotes and examples that resonate with the audience.