There’s a lot of preparation that goes into giving a speech, but for some reason can often be overlooked by most.
The way you carry yourself on stage says a lot about who you are as an individual. While the content of your speech is important, your ability to look confident while delivering it will also exude a great deal of confidence to whoever is listening.
Your body language along with how you speak not only provides you with a strong connection to your audience but also helps prepare you for what is to come next.
Check out some of these great tips on how to look confident during any speech situation by using body language.
Prepare your body language beforehand.
To hone your body language skills, practice in front of a mirror. Take note of how you look at different moments throughout your speech. Check for signs of nervousness, such as fidgeting or shuffling.
Then practice how to keep those signs under control so that you can deliver your speech with confidence.
You should also ask friends and family to sit through a mock presentation or two and give you their honest feedback on the quality of your body language.
Once you’re satisfied with how you look on camera, it’s time to put it all into action!
Stand up straight.
Stand up straight. The human body has a variety of “power poses,” or ways to hold yourself that create an impression of confidence and self-assurance.
Standing with your weight evenly distributed on both feet while keeping your head up and shoulders back is one such pose. Don’t slouch.
Keep it loose. One common mistake that public speakers make is holding their breath or squeezing the muscles in their hands into a fist in order to keep their body rigid, but this will actually make you look more nervous than when you started.
Inhale and exhale normally, at a steady rate (but not so fast that it looks like you’re hyperventilating).
Keep your hands out of your pockets.
Not only can it look strange to have both hands in your pockets for an extended period of time, but having them tucked away will give the audience the impression that you don’t know what to do with them or how to use them effectively — thereby making you appear clumsy or inexperienced.
If possible, try gesturing broadly with at least one hand as you speak—and if not, simply let them hang by your sides or rest lightly on the podium, making sure not to lock your fingers together too tightly (which can come across as tense).
Open up your posture.
As a speaker, it’s important to make sure that your body language is as open and inviting as possible.
You want your audience to feel comfortable with you, and you want them to see that you are confident. Here are some basics to think about:
- Open up your posture. Don’t cross your arms or stand with your legs crossed, which can make you seem closed off. Don’t put your hands in your pockets or clasp them behind your back, which can make you look like you’re hiding something. Don’t shuffle or tap! These nervous tics will undermine everything else you are doing. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, making sure that all of the weight is on one foot instead of shifting back and forth between the two—this will help keep you still and move more naturally when the time comes for gestures.
Take big steps when you walk.
When entering a room and approaching the stage, you need to exude confidence.
The importance of moving with purpose cannot be overstated. Even moving with a little more pep in your step can help you feel more confident, so long as it’s done subtly.
You don’t want to walk too fast or too slowly, but somewhere in between.
When it comes time for your speech, take note of where you are standing on the stage. Is that spot working for you? If not, get up and move around!
There is nothing wrong with pacing back and forth when giving a speech, but make sure that you don’t pace back and forth directly in front of the audience.
It will be distracting to them if they have to keep watching you move from one side of the stage to the other.
Instead of walking directly in front of them, look at what part of your body they are focused on while they’re seated (for most people this will be their line of sight).
Try walking behind that part so that they don’t notice your movement as much.
Try to look relaxed instead of tense.
A. Try to look relaxed instead of tense. If you are subconsciously trying to make your body as big and imposing as possible, this is a sign that you might be feeling nervous or unsure of yourself.
Instead, try to relax your muscles while you are speaking. This can take some conscious effort – especially if you are feeling nervous! But the more you practice relaxing your muscles, the easier it will be to look relaxed when speaking in public.
B. Relax your facial muscles (your forehead, eyes, eyebrows, and cheeks). Hold a neutral expression throughout your speech.
It’s OK if it looks like you aren’t showing much emotion at all – smiling too broadly might make it seem like you’re not taking things seriously!
C. Relax your shoulders by letting them hang down naturally at either side of your body instead of shrugging up towards your ears.
D. Relax your breathing by taking slow deep breaths from the belly rather than shallow quick breaths from the chest area via
E: Relax the jaw by unclenching the teeth
F: Relax hands by loosening any tight grip on an object such as a microphone stand or lectern desk or making a fist and unclenching it
G: Keep legs loose and do not lock knees as this makes one appear stiff and rigid in posture
Avoid standing in one place for too long. Section: Smile.
- Avoid standing in one place for too long. If you don’t shift your weight at least slightly from time to time, people might assume you’re not comfortable. It is also advisable to move around the stage, moving left and right a few steps as well as forward and backward. By doing this, you can make eye contact with more people in the audience, which will help you feel connected to them.
- Smile. Smiling makes you look confident and approachable. When smiling, do it naturally; avoid smiling awkwardly or forcing a grin that might seem insincere or condescending.
Make eye contact with everyone in your audience, as opposed to just a few key people.
When you’re speaking in front of a crowd, the most important thing you can do is make eye contact with your audience.
Not only does it show that you’re confident, but it also helps the audience feel more comfortable and engaged.
Make sure to look at several different people in the audience for about two to three seconds each.
If you have any nervous tendencies, like looking up or down, keep your notes on a podium or desk so that you have something else to look at when you need it. You can also practice looking at yourself in the mirror while talking so that your eye movements seem natural when giving a speech later on.
Engage the audience by asking questions, and thank them for their ideas and suggestions during a Q&A session afterward.
- Engage the audience by asking questions.
- Thank them for their ideas and suggestions during a Q&A session afterward.
Be yourself! Let your body talk and make gestures naturally, not like an actor putting on a show.
Most public speakers don’t take advantage of their body language to get their message across.
They stand there with their hands and arms at their sides, never making any gestures or using any movement at all.
Or they move around so much, that they seem like actors in a play.
To be interesting when you speak, you need to know the right amount of gestures and movements to use.
Your fingers, hands, and arms are your main tools for getting your point across when you speak in public.
If you do things with them that are too big or too small, people will not pay attention to what is coming out of your mouth—they’ll be focused on what your hands are doing.
So how do you learn the best amount of hand/arm gestures to use? The answer is simple: be yourself! Let your body talk and make gestures naturally, not like an actor putting on a show.
The way you stand and move while giving a speech can make you more confident, but don’t overdo it!
When you present, it’s important to prepare for the unexpected.
You don’t want to be thrown off by an audience question or a strange sound from your microphone.
It’s best to practice giving your speech so that you can address these situations and feel comfortable with any curveballs thrown your way.
Even if you’re not delivering a formal speech, having the ability to speak confidently and comfortably in front of others is an important skill in both our professional and personal lives.
Being able to communicate effectively can help you earn trust, respect, and friends.
But when it comes down to it, mastering these skills doesn’t have to be as complicated as we might think.
Here are some simple ways how you can become a better public speaker:
Remember these tips next time you give a speech!
Preparation, practice, and rehearsal will help you look confident before going onstage.
Practice your presentation in front of a mirror and get feedback from people who know how to give you constructive criticism.
The main thing is to project an air of confidence, whether it is justified or not.
If you are confident about the content of your presentation and have practiced until you have perfected it, then your audience will assume that you are as well.
Body language can go a long way towards making you look like a polished speaker.
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