Body language essentials

Underneath are my few „little tricks” that I start with, while coaching for public speaking. Those create the sense of radical difference and motivate further training.

Present the idea with open hand and palm facing up

Often times this is one of the first suggestions. Human eye is prone to follow the movement. It’s not a secret that “hands talk the most”. So it not only make sense but was also proven: your wrist shapes audience attention. When you’re presenting an idea your gestures, how you illustrate could be congruent with intention, neutral or non-existent, confusing or even off-putting. So for example, if you want to inspire your audience but your gestures say “be calm, go back to your places” or “stop” with palms facing down that’s not very congruent. Or worse, when you actively needling them with you pointing finger which is used to force your point through – that could appall some people. And since this all is taking place in our intuitive thinking – you and your audience could even not be aware this was the reason.

So please – inspiring idea = open hand, palm facing up and upward movement of hand. Just like you would present a ball in your hand so back rows could see.

Overall energy level of your gestures should be only a notch higher than you expect audience to be

This is very important. Just as you would hurt your body exercising without warm up, the same goes with audience. And to be honest, even yourself. I mean yes, you could start your speech “Ballmer style” but probably you would feel better with your own skin than with Ballmers’. And this isn’t even an exception to the rule – we were expecting intense experience before he jumped out.

If you can expect your audience to be pumped up before your appearance you should start with earthquake. If not, then choice of being too energetic in the beginning is a mistake in design. You can off-put people, you could not deliver enough energy in the climax, you can feel bad with it yourself.

On the other side underproviding energy will end up with audience not excited before your main idea or your “one last thing”. Energy of your body language should be considered while writing a speech.

Know your material so you can put some cognitive effort to take care of your body language

I cannot stress this enough. Great body language is often counter intuitive and demanding on our skills. To master proper habits you need all your cognitive capacities in early stages. You won’t have them at hand while improvising or just barely knowing your presentation.

I can bet you, that in early stages of training you’d be better of knowing your material perfectly than knowing all techniques in the world. I shit you not. Sense of knowing what you’re saying is the first technique or method you should start. And then build on that foundation.

Also, while talking, to maintain solid posture, to breathe correctly, to remember movement pattern, to have control over your voice, remember about illustrators and congruent body communication. Chronemics, punctuations, and intonation. All of that and more – to make your body speak what you want to say and how you want to say it is a hell of cognitive effort. Through time it’ll become your second nature, you’ll develop habits, but to master that point there is some practice with hands deep in the dirt.

On that bombshell, see you tomorrow!

Przemek Kucia

Tell me: Do you have your own tricks to share? Or maybe own set of essentials you don’t mind revealing? If you have a minute, please post in comments. Every comment will be weight in gold.