Speaking & Presentation Skills
How to Incorporate Body Language Into Your Presentation

by Debashis Banerjee
Communication is much more than words and your voice. The way you sit, stand or use your voice can potentially sabotage or reinforce your message. Here are some useful tips on using body language to improve overall communication.
It is best not to undermine the power of body language. That's because when you are before a group of people, your body and its appearance is communicating a message to them. The way you sit, stand or use your voice can potentially sabotage or reinforce your message. You might use powerful words, but your body is weak and temperament uncertain. This will not make the audience accept what you have to tell them, because the words and idea of the presentation does not match your temperament and physique.
  • Be confident, stand tall
  • Smile
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience
  • Stand back to prevent bending over the text
  • Keep the hands beside you, but fold them from the elbow to make gestures
  • Move between the key points of your speech
  • Use natural and conversational gestures and remember that you are speaking to the audience
  • Don't have the arms at the back or cross the arms
  • No fidgeting, scratching, shuffling feet, jiggling with things in the pocket
  • Do not point at anyone in the audience
  • Don't force a smile
What is your Body Language?
The body language is comprised of facial expressions, postures, gestures and movements. The language that is given out by the body of the presenter is a natural aspect of the communication. It helps in clarifying the meaning that you want to convey to the audience. The body language is a visual element of the presentation and it might vent your nervousness, emphasize a point or even hook the interest of the audience. The golden rule is to stay relaxed and natural. Here are certain aspects you might wish to follow for giving out a positive image:
  • Eye contact: Arrest the attention of the audience through natural and friendly facial expressions; raise your eyebrows to indicate surprise, curl the brows etc.
  • Hands: The hands can be gestured to indicate ample possibilities like express reflection or surprise. Be mindful of your hand movements. In case you are unhappy, you can hold cards or notes to make them occupied. Back and forth movements of the hands suggest slow. Open your arms to welcome ideas.
  • Body: Movements of the body may indicate shift of focus or rope in the audience's attention. Your body language may even indicate a gesture of transition, and motioning the head up and down might imply acknowledgment or importance. Shrugging of shoulders indicate you do not care.
  • Posture: Stand straight, but maintain a relaxed posture, and try not to slouch. You may however lean ahead to emphasize; do not put your hands in your pockets.
Do not fail to make eye contact, or look at your notes at all times. Looking at the board or screen may shut you out from the audience as they can see your back. Do not stare or look blankly into people's eyes. Do not lean on walls or sway back and forth. Folding arms is like a defensive gesture; don't do it.
Why should You have a Positive Body Language?
Remember that as the presenter, you are the most important visual. This is true because the body language of the speaker stands out more than the data ridden PowerPoint slides or dazzling animations. It has been scientifically proven that your facial expressions, movements, and gestures significantly contribute to allow the listeners to grasp and understand the meaning of your words. At least 50% of the language is the imagery, which is attributed shape by the body language of the speaker, more than the spoken words.
As a person speaks, he is simultaneously thinking in two forms. Speech and gesture comprise one aspect whereas he other is comprised of gesture and hand movements. Therefore, when a person makes a presentation in a room, with their hands limp beside them, they are actually reducing the ability of the listeners to appreciate their ideas. Another important aspect of body language is the gesture which should be used to avoid the audiences missing out large portions of the presentation.
Make your body language Natural and Effective
You can make the gestures natural by making them contextual to the content and your style. You can deliver effective gestures by following certain core guidelines which will make you feel comfortable and natural. The gestures of a group presentation should not be confused with the gestures made in one-to-one presentations. Your body language might become restricted when you are in front of a large audience and this means you are not at your best.
One-to-one are small, and inappropriate for a large group of people. If the audience is bigger, your body language should be more expressive and gestures bigger. Scaling your gestures to match the size of the auditorium is ideal. The fundamental idea of a successful presentation is to tap your natural style.
Debashis Banerjee is a freelance writer who brings more than 22 years of experience to the table. He has written for small startups as well as big brand names, and enjoys the process immensely. He loves researching, writing and reading, but most of all, traveling.

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