Better Public Speaking

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Utilizing Body Language in a Speech

Your body language plays an important part in making your speech a perfect one. Normally, the tactics of verbal communication focus a lot on proper mapping of the body language. Body language has its instinctive impact on your speech as it involves non-verbal communication. Body language is all about conveying a message to another person without having an interchange of words. It is calculated that most of the messages that we interchange with each other are through body language.

From 1967 to 1971, Professor Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication. He discovered that when there is communication on a face-to-face basis, the audience would be able to guess the intention of the speaker accurately 55% of the time from his / her physiology. What’s important here is that the exact percentage is irrelevant. The crucial part is that most face-to-face communication is nonverbal.

Therefore, you must be aware of how to use your body language in your speech. For expressive people, body language is a very strong point in their speech and for the docile ones, it is not. So, if you do not have it as your strength, it would be a good idea to learn how to make it your strength. Flaunting your physiology appropriately will augment your speech deliverance.

Generally, body language is divided into 3 parts:

Gesticulation

Gesticulation is also referred to as “making proper gestures”. The different movements that we make using our hands are called gestures and the process is called gesticulation. Whenever a person delivers a speech, there comes certain points when he or she has to focus a bit to grab the attention of the audience. Proper use of gesture by making particular arm movements in the air can grab the attention of the audience.

In addition, the gestures are directly proportional to the size of the audience. If you are having a small meeting, you do not need to overly exaggerate your gestures. On the other hand, if you are a political leader or a person similar to that, you can have an audience of a million people in front of you. At that spot, you will need to focus on a powerful speech. Therefore, your gestures need to be exaggerated, deliberate, slow and accentuated. This is because you need to give adequate time for a million pairs of eyes to follow your movement.

Facial Expression

Facial expressions are indeed a very important part of your overall body language in your speech deliverance. Your audience will draw a conclusion or an idea of what you are talking about or what your mood is just by observing your facial expressions. So, if you want to deliver a successful speech, you need to focus on how to maintain the appropriate facial expressions during your presentation. Facial expressions of a debater or presenter greatly depends upon the lip and face movements. Many debaters and presenters are unaware of these facial expressions and just neglect them. Therefore it would be a good idea to rehearse your speech in front of a mirror or record your speech on video in order to observe your facial expressions.

Another aspect of your facial expressions is your eye contact with your audience. Eye contact is generally referred to as the point of confidence in your speech. If you are shy in making eye contact with your audience, you cannot deliver a good speech. You need to build inner self confidence to make eye contact with your audience. Your eye contact will help your audience connect with, like and trust you.

It will not be practical to establish eye contact with every individual in the room. So, a good way to deal with large crowds is to look at the people in the first few rows only. Beyond the third row, all you’ll see is a sea of heads with no eyes anyway. If the room had got a video camera which is projecting you on the big screen, lucky you. All you need to do is to look at the camera while speaking. Your eye contact with the camera will appear as eye contact with the audience on the big screen.

Body Posture

Last but not least is how you stand. It is also referred to as your body posture. Your body posture is very important as it will enable you to breathe well and portray a sense of confidence. If you have the inclination to sway or rock while speaking, spread your feet out almost in line with your shoulders, parallel to one another. Standing in this position will minimize any swaying or rocking motion and decrease disturbing heel movements. Feel free to move around and return to this posture, just don’t pace.

These are some of the non-verbal messages your audience may interpret when you do the following:

  • Leaning to one side – You are uncomfortable being on stage, you are trying to escape.
  • Pacing across the speaking area like a caged tiger – You are trying to break free, just like the caged tiger.
  • Rocking back and forth – Loss of power, you are nervous.

So there you go, my friends. Gesticulation, facial expressions and body posture will make or break your speech. While we all want to believe that it’s sufficient to be natural in front of a room, achieving this is easier said than done. It’s a strange and uncommon thing that produces strain, pressure, and ‘butterflies” in our stomachs. Being natural is insufficient. We need to be more dramatic, larger and more commanding. It takes additional determination and vigor. It also takes talent and rehearsal. With so much reliant on communication and communication contingent upon our physiology, it’s worth getting it right. Toil on your Gesticulation, facial expressions and body posture to make the most of every speaking occasion.

Good luck 🙂