The Importance of Body Language
The importance of body language and communication are often ignored. When people prepare for presentations, they usually spend 80% of their time on content and only 20% on delivery. Not everyone knows this, but my undergraduate degree was in Film and Theatre and I spent years performing comedy regularly on stages across the country and on TV. So, to me, when it comes to presentations, performance and delivery are just as important as the content we prepare.
The World’s a Stage
Shakespeare was right when he wrote that “all the world’s a stage”. From the maître d’ who greets you with a smile to the efficient individual who gets you registered upon your arrival at a conference to how you appear when you are presenting, everything is theatre. And everyone. Keeping in mind that you too are a performer whose actions and mannerisms can change the way people perceive you and your business, is essential for success.
The next time you meet someone for the first time, attend a meeting, or have a discussion with a friend, ask yourself, ‘How do I want to position myself as a performer? How do I want to be perceived?’
Creating Your Status
Effective communicators check in with themselves to see how they are using their voice and their body to create what I call their status. Your ‘status’ is developed by your body language. If you think of status on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is low and 10 is high, low status would be sitting on the floor in a downtrodden position, resisting eye contact and completely closed off to any kind of communication. High status would be the exact opposite – you are standing upright and confident with your chin raised, open to discourse and fully engaged with your audience, whether that’s a single person or a large group. The next time you’re getting ready to speak publicly, stand in front of a mirror and think about what kind of status you want to portray. You may not want to be seen as a 10. Depending on the situation, you may want to ensure the status of those you are speaking to is higher than yours. This can serve to help you connect better in with your audience and have a meaningful, open conversation. That’s the power of status – you can adapt it to your circumstances, your message, and your audience.
Here’s the thing: Our state of mind informs our status – so if you are feeling frustrated, or disappointed, or angry, this will reflect itself in how you are holding your body. People carry their experiences of the day in their body, if you had a bad experience before you present, you have to shake off that state of mind and “reset” your status, so that your next performance won’t be affected by whatever else is going on in your life. Professional actors are experts at separating their status from their mood, and it’s a lesson worth learning.
Your voice is also a powerful tool: your volume, speed, tempo, and tone convey your status and your message. Speaking too quickly, too quietly, or muttering all degrade your status, whereas using a clear voice that has volume and a well-paced cadence can elevate your status, and engage your audience.
Presenting is a Gift
I believe that being given the opportunity to present, to speak in front of any audience, is a gift. It’s an opportunity for you to share your insights and your knowledge – to teach, to inspire, and to lead. It’s a gift to your audience, and to you, and it’s worth taking the time to do it well. Prepare what you want to say, and how you want to say it.
How to Become a Better Presenter
One of the most important things is practice. If you can rehearse with a friend or colleague in advance, it’s important to ask the hard questions to get real feedback. Here is are some great questions to ask.
- Was my content understandable?
- Did I speak too slowly or too quickly?
- What did I look like?
- Did I seem confident in what I was saying?
- Did I hold your attention?
- What will you remember about my presentation?
One of the unique things about Talk Boutique is that we coach our speakers to ensure the way they deliver their idea is as powerful and polished as the idea itself.
The time and energy we put into our clients’ performance makes a difference between a good presentation and a great one. Contact us for individual coaching or sign up to our SpeakEasy Intensive program and we can help you become a great presenter with our proven system.