There is more to engaging an audience than putting together a great presentation and the importance of body language should not be underestimated. When it comes to presentation success, delivery is everything and the way you communicate your message to an audience is crucial.
If you are nervous, your body language will give this away, but there are many ways to appear confident, from the way that you stand to the gestures that you use. So, with this in mind, whether you are presenting at an interview or pitching to a potential client, here are a few ways to successfully engage your audience using your body language.
PERFECT YOUR STANCE
You don’t have to simply speak with your audience to communicate with them. From the moment you step into a room, your body is giving off signals to your audience and as a professional speaker it is important that your body language sends the right message.
One way to do this is to work on your stance. For example, an unbalanced stance can make you seem unsure of yourself, but if you stand with your feet firmly planted on the floor, you will appear confident. There are many rules when it comes to stance, but the most important factor is that you do what feels natural to you while maintaining a level of professionalism.
MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT
Making eye contact with your audience is a basic factor when it comes to persuasive body language. If you are presenting to a small group, make eye contact with each member and use the two-second rule to prevent any of the audience members feeling uncomfortable. If you are presenting to thousands of people, making and maintaining eye contact with each person is quite frankly impossible, but you can make sure that you connect with them by looking at different sections of the audience throughout the presentation.
CHOOSE FACIAL EXPRESSIONS WITH CARE
A deadpan expression will not get you very far when trying to engage an audience. Facial expressions are a powerful medium through which you can communicate to an audience exactly what emotions you are feeling. A genuine smile when you enter the room can put your audience at ease and show that you are truly happy to be there.
You may not have given much thought to the facial expressions you use during a presentation, but you can gain a lot of insight into this by filming them and watching one of your presentations back. It is easy for your face to set into a grim expression especially is you feel nervous, but it is essential to let your facial muscles relax and put your audience at ease from the start.
The right body language can have a huge impact on your audience and one way to get your message across is to use your hands. One of the worst things you can do during a presentation is to fold your hands across your chest or keep hold of your presentation folder simply because you aren’t sure what else to do with them.
Hand gestures when used at the right time can help you to emphasise certain points during your speech and express emotion. However, make sure that the size of your gestures complements the size of your audience. Too small, they will go unnoticed by a large audience and too big, it could come across as very dramatic in a small room.
Standing alone and delivering a speech to a large audience can be intimidating, however, putting all of these body language tips together can help you to create a powerful, persuasive presentation.
Have you mastered the art of engaging an audience with your body language? Let us know on Twitter at @viking_chat.