When speaking in public or making presentations, do you exude strong, confident, and commanding body language? Do you keep your arms crossed instead of open? Do you fidget, rock, or have other distracting body mannerisms? Many gestures and posture tics undermine the effectiveness of communication. For example, in general, people believe that crossed arms suggest defensiveness.
Effective gesturing can relax you, reinforce your message, and make your presentation more interesting to watch. To illustrate what you are saying, use your arms and hands as you would do instinctively in any conversation. Here are some tips:
- Open up your arms to embrace your audience. Keep your arms between your waist and shoulders.
- Extend your hands and arms occasionally to “reach out” as if you were to offer a handshake—to signal an attempt to bridge the gap between you and your audience.
- Drop your arms to your sides when not using them. Don’t put your hands in your pocket.
- Do not fidget with keys or other keys in your pockets.
- Avoid quick and jerky gestures—they make you appear nervous. Hold gestures longer than you would in normal conversations.
- Vary gestures. Switch from hand to hand and at other times use either hands or no hands.
- Do not overuse gestures. Presenters who overuse gestures can seem overly dramatic and insincere.
Improve your body language and you will stand a far better chance of winning over your audience. By changing your body language, you can go from thumbs down to thumbs up during a job interview or a sales pitch.