How you stand when presenting and the gestures that you use can have a real effect on not just what you say but also how it’s interpreted.
It might shock you to learn that studies have shown that:
- 7% of a message is conveyed through words
- 38% of a message is conveyed through tone of voice and
- 55% of a message is conveyed through nonverbal communication
Feelings and attitudes are conveyed through facial expression so it makes sense that such a large portion of a message is portrayed in this way.
My body language guide
Knowing this, here’s my guide to how to hold your head high (but not too high) and present with winning body language…
- Look straight out at the audience
- Hold your head high (but not too high as this could appear arrogant)
- Holding your head low appears defensive so try to avoid this
- Keep your shoulders relaxes so you don’t appear tense
- Make eye contact with as many people as possible in the audience
Arms and hands
- Use open gestures
- Small controlled hand gestures show you know what you’re talking about
- Sweeping gestures can be distracting so try to avoid these
- Hands should be open
- Clenched fists and hands in pockets should definitely be avoided
- Shoulder width apart should ensure you keep your balance
- Pacing a little can help animate a presentation but too much is distracting
Preparing for a presentation
When preparing for a presentation, there are a few questions I like to ask myself to make sure that how I deliver my content resonates just as much as the content itself:
- How is my posture?
- Am I making eye contact?
- What do my gestures say?
- Am I breathing evenly?
- What’s my tone like and what does it show?
- Am I dressed correctly?
Answering questions as a team
As part of a presentation Q&A, make sure to come across as one and not as a collection of individuals who have each worked on one part of a presentation. Try not to rely on one person to answer all questions or invite questions and decide in advance who will answer each one.
My presenting hints and tips
- Memorise the first minute and any transitions between sections
- Make slides simple, easy to read and not too text heavy
- Use hand-outs sensibly
- Familiarise yourself with the room, the technology, a back up plan and the timings of the presentation
- Check that the audience are engaged throughout and keep your own energy levels and anxiety under control