How to Improve Body Language

Some of us do not naturally possess the personality or body language that is required for making a good impression on others. Body language is the biggest way that others perceive you. Overall, you should appear relaxed, confident and engaging in order to attract the positive attention you want. Try some of these out today!

Smile

Most people do not realize that their “neutral” face is boring, which is an obvious turn-off. You do not need to be beaming from ear to ear 24/7; however, it is a good idea to remind yourself to smile a bit.

Uncross your arms

Having your arms crossed signals that you want to be left alone or that you are upset. Uncrossing your arms will signal to others (and yourself) that you are at ease in the situation.

Talk more with your hands

The right gestures add immeasurably to your words. Think about how you talk and act when you’re not “on.”

Then act the same way when you’re in professional situations. You’ll feel more confident, think more clearly, naturally punctuate certain words and phrases, and fall into a much better rhythm.

Relax your shoulders

There is a balance with the shoulders: shoulders too high will make you appear nervous, but slumped shoulders give off a sad or self-conscious vibe. Try to work somewhere in the middle, your shoulders falling to a natural and comfortable height.

Straighten your entire spine—including your neck

Unless you are looking for someone who is shorter than you, your entire spine should be straight. Try to remind yourself to keep your “chin up” and your neck will straighten out in a positively confident manner.

Think before you speak

Eye contact is important, but it’s hard to maintain eye contact when you have to think. Most of us start talking and look up or down or away and then swing back when we’ve gathered our thoughts.

Here’s a better way. If you have to look away to think, do it before you answer. Take a pause, look thoughtful, glance away, and then return to making eye contact when you start speaking. Then your words are even more powerful because your eyes support them.

Claim your space

Those with a small frame naturally take up less space and appear timid. A way to counter this is to imagine that you are claiming your space on the floor. Stand with feet apart; not together.

Do not stare at the floor

Unless you are checking out the new carpeting or someone’s sparkly shoes, your eyes should be close to others’ eye level.

Take a deep breath

This is one good way to calm your nerves and make your whole person more relaxed.

Do not touch your neck or face

This is a signal to others that you are protecting yourself or are nervous.

Nod when someone is talking to you

This is a positive form of body language that will let others know you are listening and engaged in the conversation.

Lower your voice

Studies show that people with deeper voices are taken more seriously.

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10 Tips To Improve Your Body Language | Public Speaking Skills - Tips

Power of Gestures and Postures in Body Language

Perhaps the most fundamental form of visual communication – indeed of all communication – is body language. This is a language which we have all learned to speak and understand and yet it is. As body language is an important part of public speaking, your body language includes your posture, movement, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, and voice.  The way we carry ourselves, the gestures we use and our postures communicate much more than we realize.

Here are the most common gesture and posture mistakes that should be taken care of:

GESTURES 

  • Not using gestures at all.  If you keep your hands locked at your sides, you will look nervous and your presentation will lack the visual element to accompany and enhance your words.
  • Fidgeting with your hands.  Be aware of what your hands are doing, such as “washing” each other, grasping each other tightly, fiddling with your watch or jewelry, etc.  One of the common mistakes can be rolling and unrolling shirt sleeves while presenting.  If you must hold something, such as your notes or the PowerPoint remote, be conscious of how you are holding it.
  • Holding your hands behind your back.  This gesture usually resembles that of a child reciting a poem at a school assembly. When not gesturing, your hands should be in the “neutral position,” hanging loosely at your sides.
  • Folding your arms across your chest. Even if you are only doing this because you feel cold, this gesture will most likely be interpreted as your closing yourself off from the audience.
  • Moving without purpose.  Most of the time you should stand confidently in one place rather than pacing back and forth or walking aimlessly.  If you do need to move, it should have a purpose.  For example, walk confidently to the front of the room before you begin speaking and walk with purpose to the flipchart or to the computer.
  • Shifting your weight from one foot to the other.  Many people do this unconsciously and sometimes because their feet hurt. Instead, stand with your feet firmly planted on the floor, with your weight equally distributed on both feet.

POSTURE

  • Standing too stiffly.  Yes, you should stand up straight but it should be natural, not like you are frozen at attention.  Keep your shoulders back and hold your head up so you can make eye contact.  This posture conveys confidence and helps you breathe more fully.
  • Slouching and keeping your head down.  Not only does it prevent you from looking at the audience, but it also conveys nervousness and makes it harder for the audience to hear you.

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Body language is a term for  communication using  body movements or gestures instead of, or in addition to, sounds, verbal language or other communication. It forms part of the category of paralanguage, which describes all forms of human communication that are not verbal  language. This includes the most subtle of movements that many people are not aware of, including  winkingand slight movement of the eyebrows. In addition, body language can also incorporate the use of facial expressions.

One of the most basic and powerful body-language signals is when a person crosses his or her arms across the chest. This can indicate that a person is putting up an unconscious barrier between themselves and others. It can also indicate that the person’s arms are cold which would be clarified by rubbing the arms or huddling. When the overall situation is friendly, it can mean that a person is thinking deeply about what is being discussed. But in a serious or confrontational situation, it can mean that a person is expressing opposition. This is especially so if the person is leaning away from the speaker. A harsh or blank facial expression often indicates outright unfriendliness.

Consistent eye contact can indicate that a person is thinking positively of what the speaker is saying. It can also mean that the other person doesn’t trust the speaker enough to “take his eyes off” the speaker. Lack of eye contact can indicate negativity. On the other hand, individuals with anxiety are often unable to make eye contact without discomfort. Eye contact is often a secondary and misleading gesture because we are taught from an early age to make eye contact when speaking. If a person is looking at you but is making the arms-across-chest signal, the eye contact could be indicative that something is bothering the person, and that he wants to talk about it. Or if while making direct eye contact a person is fiddling with something, even while directly looking at you, it could indicate the attention is elsewhere.

Disbelief is often indicated by averted gaze, or by touching the ear or scratching the chin. So is eyestrain, or itchiness. When a person is not being convinced by what someone is saying, the attention invariably wanders, and the eyes will stare away for an extended period.

Boredom is indicated by the head tilting to one side, or by the eyes looking straight at the speaker but becoming slightly unfocused. A head tilt may also indicate a sore neck, and unfocused eyes may indicate ocular problems in the listener.

Interest can be indicated through posture or extended eye contact.

In BM English speaking Course each participant has to do Public speaking practise 20 times on various topics and a professional trainer corrects Grammar, pronunciation, Body Language, trains him/her to speak fluently with confidence.

How many of you have made your mind up about a speaker’s message without concerning yourself about the words, purely by observation and your intuition. And this is going on right now somewhere in the world. A business speaker has a good message but it’s being clouded by the way its presented. The purpose of this article is to remind you, convince you of some key steps to take to ensure your body doesn’t cloud the message next time you get up a speak.

The Head
As adults, we still have childish habits and one of them is to focus on the face of someone who is speaking to you. So get those expressions working for you and really exaggerate the meaning. Smile, frown, look angry, shocked, amazed – but please always be congruent with your message.

Eye Contact
Next we have eye contact. This is probably the one skill, when mastered, that does the most to engage the audience and build trust and rapport with the audience. The rule is to hardly ever let go. Imagine you’re playing tennis or squash. You never let your eye off the ball otherwise you’ll miss a shot. Like wise, keep your eye contact on the audience at all times.

Careful with the lighthouse technique as well – this is where speakers sweep the audience in a repetitive swishing motion that does more to put people to sleep than engage.

Instead have a conversation with your audience with your eyes. Randomly contact with each audience member and give them 2 to 3 seconds of eye contact and move onto the next person. Maintain this random movement. Find those in the audience who like just a little more eye contact and be aware of those who want slightly less. When faced with a large audience – more than 25 or so people, adopt a similar habit but don’t give each person eye contact. That’ll take ages. Instead clump people into small groups and give these clumps the same eye contact as if they were one person. Because of the distance between you and a large audience, this gives people the impression that you are looking at them.

Feet
Now let’s go to the other extreme of your body. Your feet and legs. Now what do you do with these limbs. Not a lot really unless you are moving around your stage, that’s movement with a purpose, not aimless wandering that only distracts the audience.

Try to stand with both feet firmly on the ground pretty much the same distance apart as your shoulders. Keep them balanced so your body is not leaning to one side. Don’t look like a cat walk model or if you’re supping a pint at the bar of your local. Stand straight and look professional not a slouch.

Nerves…that’s a word than conjures up fear and dread every time people stand up and speak in public. And sure enough you’ll have nerves. Professionals call it adrenaline and you need that to do a really good job. If you don’t have nerves or adrenaline, you might as well not bother because you can’t be bothered. Sop welcome nerves, call them adrenaline and make them work for you. Nerves will show in the periphery of your body. The ends such as feet, hands, head. Keeping your feet still transfers this energy to the top part of your body where it should go.

You should stay rigid to the spot; that would be terrible for 20 minutes. Instead focus your attention on preventing aimless movement, pacing up and down, shifting from side to side.

The Body
Next we have the trunk. Not much you can do with the trunk apart from keeping it straight. Not like the sergeant Major on the parade ground but not slouched either. Relaxed and comfortable. The worse sin is to block the invisible mid line that runs from between your 2 feet and your head. Block it and you place a barrier with your audience. Just don’t block it – that’s the rule.

Hands and Arms
How many people I’ve spoken with who don’t know what to do with these very useful limbs. Shame really so they copy people on the TV especially weather girls. They grasp them together. It made me feel better and comfortable so much that as soon as I stood up to talk, my two hands came together. And when I got really nervous I used to rub them together too.

So what do you do with them? Behind your backs but that just reminds me of Prince Charles. In your pockets I hear you say. No, you’re hiding something, keeping back from the audience and besides, you’re missing out on a great weapon. No the answer is to use them to back up your message by gesturing.

We should gesture with audiences. Large dramatic gestures to help the audience understand what you’re saying. Broad gestures that welcome every person into your speech, building rapport. Think of your speech content and let your hands do the talking. Watch deaf people doing their sign language – it really is a very clever way of losing your gesture buttons.

And when not gesturing, or talking, maybe standing still to take questions from your audience, assume the assertive stance. Standing straight with your arms and hands down your sides in a relaxed assertive and confident manner.

Body Movement
Finally, body movement. Movement can be an enormously effective way of engaging the audience into your message. Clean your stage – remove obstacles, tape wires to the floor, so you don’t trip over them, place the screen to the side.

Once you have a clear space do move around with a purpose. I’ve used past, present and future by gradually moving along an imaginary line. The audience can see the time moving along as well as hear. I’ve used one side of the stage being advantages of an idea I’m promoting and the other side, the disadvantages. I’ve placed flipcharts at both sides of the room to mirror these place anchors.

Move forward towards your audience when you want to make a really big point. Move backwards when you want them to reflect on something. Move to your left or right to change the subject or pace of your delivery. Do move around your stage but with a distinct purpose.

The next time you’re observing and listening to a speaker, try and cut out the sound and focus entirely on the visual aspects. Try and interpret what he or she is saying just by the body language alone. You may not be right in your assumption of the meaning, but its the impression that everyone else is probably getting too. And first impressions last for ages.

In BM English Speaking in every session the participant has to do Public Speaking practice 20 times where the trainer will train the participant on body language- Eye contact, gestures, postures and facial expressions.