Last week I was helping a small group reflect on what makes a good presentation. Part of our discussion focussed on getting the body language right, to be professional and authentic. Body language can dominate the message you are trying to get across and take up as much as 80% of the attention of the person you are trying to communicate with. So.. when giving a presentation the focus should be on trying to neutralise your body language as much as you can so that the content of your presentation comes across as strongly as possible.
My view is if you concentrate on doing the following your body language should positively reinforce your message:
- Be well prepared – have a good night’s sleep; plan what you are going to wear so that you feel comfortable and look professional; drink enough water to be well hydrated – your body will feel more relaxed; warm up your voice before.
- Know what you are going to say (and practice beforehand) – keep the language simple to make it easy to present and to understand
All these will make it easier to manage any nervousness you may have. So will the following..
- Have both feet on the ground slightly apart
- Breathe regularly and allow for gaps to breathe and relax your body – you are aiming for a relaxed, open and alert stance
- Slow down your speech by about half for clarity
- Try and deepen the tone of your voice if you can
- Make eye contact with your audience as much as you can
- Use your hands to emphasis key points occasionally
(When you are thinking about the next presentation you are going to give, remember the ones you may have seen where you were completely distracted by the presenter’s body language and put in the time to avoid the same mistake!)