Body language & gestures during a speech

What Language is Your Body Speaking?

Body language. The nonverbal communication of your body that can tell your audience you are speaking with confidence or cowardness, delight or disingenuity. Do you know which language your body is speaking?

Something as simple as an arm gesture could be telling your audience one thing while your voice is saying something totally different. And, of course, no body language usually means no vocal variety which is always boring.

Part of the difficulty with body language is that it often shows fear. When I first started my business some years ago, I was at a new member’s orientation for the local chamber of commerce. With about 150 people in the room, we had to stand and introduce ourselves. I had a bit of time before it was my turn. As I sat there thinking about what I was going to say, it suddenly dawned on me that my personal introduction was my business. It didn’t matter how anyone else sounded; however, as a voice coach, I realized that how I sounded could make or break my business.

It was at that point that I became nervous — more so than I have ever been. But when I stood to speak, I sounded and looked confident. My body language did not scream fear even though I was dying a thousand deaths!

What was I doing to allow myself to remain in control? I spoke to the audience just as if we were in my living room having a conversation which allowed me to use my body language in the exact same manner. I acknowledged those in attendance by smiling, using my hands as I talked, and shifting my weight from one leg to the other. By no means did I stand there rigid with my arms crossed over my chest or dangling limp at my sides. The image my body projected was comfort. Again, the audience was unaware of my nervousness.

Your body language should say ease and confidence, not dread or disinterest. The only way this is going to happen is when you can make eye contact with your audience, acknowledging all throughout the room. Speaking with emotion and believing in yourself help complete the picture.

The final step for gaining control is to breathe, something we never think to do when facing our fear. It is truly what allowed me to get through those 30 seconds well – so well, in fact, that a gentleman in the back of the room called me The Voice Lady and the label stuck.

Don’t let your body speak the wrong language. Use it to enhance your presentations, not detract from it.

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The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels provides private, group and corporate training throughout the United States and Canada as well as Voicing It, the only video training program on voice improvement and presentation skills. Visit Voice Dynamic and voice your opinion in her new blog.

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