Public Speaking Tips #2: The Importance of Body language

By Jenn Quach

Why should you include body language when public speaking?

Body language is important for two main reasons. First, it helps establish your credibility when speaking by making you seem more expressive with movements, which is especially important when you want to show the audience you’re passionate about your message. Second, it helps you grab your audience’s attention when your words may seem bland. Being energetic in a speech keeps your audience awake while being somber draws in their attention.

What are the most important factors of body language?

1) Gestures: Use your hands to help you emphasize a point and to grab your audience’s attention. Additionally, it allows for an easier flow of information, since just standing there will make you seem awkward!

2) Facial Expressions: Emotions are expressed through facial expressions, and it can bring life to the words or message you are relaying. Furthermore, it helps you connect with your audience better.

3) Stance: Having a good posture will increase your credibility to make it seem like you are knowledgeable about the subject at hand. Standing up straight will also make you feel and seem more confident.  

General tips on body language: 

Never put your hands in your pockets. If you’re not gesturing at any time for dramatic effect, let your hands fall to the sides. 

Use your eyebrows to express emotion (stand in front of a mirror and practice if you have to!)

Make sure your gestures make you seem more open, meaning that your hands shouldn’t be too close to your body when you’re gesturing.

Remember not to sway (too much movement can be distracting).

When attempting to balance your stance, try distributing your weight slightly forwards. 

Try to keep your feet nearly shoulder-width apart.


Sources: 

Morgan, Nick. “How Your Body Language Affects Your Public Speaking -- And What To Do About It.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 8 Sept. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2016/09/08/how-your-body-language-affects-your-public-speaking-and-what-to-do-about-it/. 

“Presentation Skills: Body Language.” Body Language, Facial Expression, Public Speaking Skills, 2003, totalcommunicator.com/body_article.html.

Visual Representation.