Do you want to give a TEDxTalk that changes the world? Or maybe share a heartfelt speech that inspires your shareholders or employees? You could have a story that can help save lives. But how do you find that gravitas on stage? Your voice is more important than you may realize. Equally as important is our body language in public speaking.. Using certain postures and gestures for public speaking can make you more memorable to a room full of strangers.
With public speaking, your voice isn’t the only star. A compelling voice can work wonders. But when giving a speech or performance, how you stand, move, and gesture matters. People will naturally read into your movements, so it’s important to be aware of your body language in public speaking.
For example, the audience may ask themselves:
- Is the person comfortable with themselves?
- Is the person nervous or anxious?
- Can this person be trusted?
- Do they know what they’re talking about?
- Do I like them?
The following are a few ways to nail gestures and movements on stage so that they complement your words and voice, and avoid projecting nerves, insecurity, or untrustworthiness.
Prep with a Power Pose
You may have heard that standing in a superhero pose for two to three minutes can make you feel more confident. Amy Cuddy famously gave a Ted talk based on her study about the power of certain poses. Spending 2-3 minutes in a powerful pose can naturally boost your confidence while lowering your cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone that can wreak havoc on your body.
Your performance starts when you walk onstage. Walking out poised, confidently and with great posture is a great way to start your talk. The best way to boost your confidence may be how you prep offstage. Try using a power pose, collect your breath, and psyche yourself up so you enter the stage with energy, excitement, and confidence. A hype-up song can also help in making you feel more self-assured.
Look at Who You’re Talking To
Eye contact is a key to connecting with your audience. If you stare into space people won’t connect with your words no matter how rich your voice may sound. Taking time to look at your audience not only ensures they connect with your words but that they connect with you. That’s the best way to ensure a lasting impact of your talk.
The easiest way to help people remember you is to take the time to look at who you’re speaking to. If you’re performing in front of a crowd, it’s good to connect with everyone in the room. A good rule of thumb is to look at the people in front of you and the people to your left and right side.
Roger Love recommends spending about 15-30 seconds connecting with people to your left, to your right and to the center. Alternating not only ensures you connect with your whole audience it also keeps your audience on their toes.
If you’re appearing on camera, that’s when you need to stay focused on the main camera as if it was one person you were speaking with. If there is an audience live as well, you can adjust your focus and move from one section of people to another. If there is no audience, try and look at the camera all the time.
Own the Stage
Movement naturally draws attention. Moving your body will naturally pull focus. Our brains are hardwired to notice movement. It’s built into our evolution. A study even shows that body movement can make you more attractive. One way to keep your audience engaged is to move a little on stage. Walking around the stage and really owning the space can also make you seem more powerful.
Moving on intentional beats can ensure that people are paying attention. Also, walking around the stage keeps the energy flowing and the audience from getting too bored or relaxed.
Know What You’re Doing With Your Hands
If you keep your hands at your side or in your pocket it can undercut your authority. People feel safer when they can see your hands. Not to mention you can use your hands to make a point, draw attention, and really connect the dots to a complex argument.
LinkedIn recommends using your hands confidently to convey emotion and hit certain points. If you talk with your hands it’s a good idea to practice how you will use your hands so you do it intentionally vs. nervously. This can ensure that your hand gestures really pack that extra punch.
Direct Your Energy to the Audience
The content of your speech or talk matters. The way you sound also matters. But if you want a little extra umph, you need to make sure your physiology also comes into play.
Roger Love recommends putting movement behind your words. So you don’t just speak with your hands, you engage your full body when you’re speaking. Your hands are connected to your arms, your arms are connected to your shoulders and neck. Realize that your whole body needs to be active, don’t just be a bobblehead or a finger pointer.
If you need a visual aid, check out how Roger Love demonstrates in this clip.
When public speaking, your voice matters. Your body can help your voice really shine by giving your words more power, purpose, and conviction. The right gestures, movement, and stance can ensure the audience pays attention, remembers what you say, and connects with you. This can create new followers, contacts, business prospects or clients, all from managing your body movements.