Body Language in Presentations
The words you use during your talk certainly matter, but the body language presentation cues that you project are as important – if not more so – in getting your message to land as you intended.
The gestures you use, the eye contact you make, the expressions you convey, and your very movement through a room offer a multitude of nonverbal signals to your audience.
It’s through these body language presentation cues that an audience will make assessments about your credibility, your expertise, and your passion for the subject, as well as whether you are qualified to seek followers for the cause you are advocating, to suggest the changes you are recommending, or to pitch the product you are selling.
Even something as seemingly small as the number of seconds you maintain eye contact with your audience or the decisions you make about what to do with your hands when presenting can make a difference. It boils down to the impression your words and your actions are making. And as researchers have discovered, first impressions are formed in mere seconds and are often quite accurate and long-lasting. In a well-known study led by the late Nalina Ambady, a professor of psychology at Boston’s Tufts University, students who watched two-second video clips (with the sound muted!) of a group of professors formed similar impressions to the ones drawn by students during a full semester.
So how do you exhibit the right body language for presentation success?
Effectively using body language in presentations takes skill and practice. But before we get into the tips and strategies for how to achieve the right look and tone, let’s look at the basics of body language in professional presentations, as well as why it is important to be aware of your body language while giving a presentation.
What is the Importance of Body Language in a Presentation?
The proper body language in a presentation helps to convey that you have confidence in yourself and your message. A speaker who knows the importance of body language in an oral presentation can instill trust in the audience, which, among other things, helps to forge a connection. Further, a presenter who knows how to effectively employ body language presentation skills can help to emphasize the ideas that matter most.
If you are genuinely passionate about your subject, show it. A lackluster delivery not only belies your enthusiasm, but also does nothing to enhance the meaning and effectiveness of your words. What should your audience believe? The words you use to share how excited you are to be there, or the flat tone with which you delivered them? Typically, they’ll assume your monotone delivery is more indicative of your true feelings than your words.
Great physical communicators learn how to successfully align their facial expressions, gestures, movements, posture, and other nonverbal elements with their message.
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Presentation Body Language Basics
If you were delivering sad news, would you do it with a smile, a bright voice, and a bounce in your step? Or would you deliver it with a serious expression, a somber tone, and less pep? Any incongruity between your actions and your message is going to make it difficult for your audience to process, understand, and retain your message. You want your audience to be concentrated on your message and not the misalignment between your nonverbal movements and verbal delivery.
Your physical presence reveals your mental and emotional state to your audience – and everything about that presence should project that you feel comfortable, are in control of the room, and know your stuff. When it comes down to how to use body language to improve your presentation, it’s a matter of focusing on several key areas of your physical movements, including your eye contact, your gestures during presentation , and your presentation posture. (You can learn more about vocal cues here .)
When we work with our clients during our public speaking training sessions , we focus on how even small adjustments can make a difference in their delivery – such as a subtle shift of the shoulders, a more open stance, increased eye contact with their audience, and more natural and authentic gestures.
All these adjustments in your body language in a presentation can help to encourage audience participation, provide greater emphasis to your words, help you to appear and feel more natural, and increase your connection with the audience.
Eye Contact in Presentations: Why It’s Important
Given there is a large body of research that reveals just how influential eye contact is when it comes to the assumptions, judgments, and perceptions people make about one another, it’s important to give more than, shall we say, a passing glance to how you plan to move your eyes about the room.
Authors, researchers, seasoned speakers, consultants, and trainers vary slightly on the exact amount of time to maintain eye contact with someone in your audience. It appears that a few seconds is the going rate. Or, to translate that into words – a sentence or two. We tend to approach it differently. We’ve found most speakers naturally strike a reasonable balance of how long to maintain eye contact with one person before moving on. If they focus too much brainpower on counting the seconds or tracking their sentences, it can trip them up.
So, instead, here’s a simple rule:
When looking at your notes, your slides, or any other place than your audience, you should not be talking. Any time you are communicating information, you should be looking at an audience member.
And you don’t want to be looking at just one person all the time. It’s important to have effective eye contact in your presentation skills toolbox. In this post , we dive more deeply into effective ways to lock eyes with multiple members of your audience, depending on the type of presentation and venue.
How to Use Facial Expressions in a Presentation
Animated and dynamic speakers know they have a fuller palette of expression to help tell their story when they enlist the more than 40 muscles in their face to move their eyes, nose, brows, and mouth. It is through facial expression that we convey emotions, including seven universal emotions identified by psychologist Paul Ekman through his decades of work. Researchers have found that your audience is likely to make assumptions about you, such as how intelligent, trustworthy, or confident you are, based on your expressions.
Here are some tips on how to better communicate through facial expressions:
Smile. Unless the material requires a more serious expression, smiling while presenting tends to convey warmth and competence, which can help you to connect with your audience. Be expressive. This is not a license to be a mime, but rather, to use your expressions to relay your enthusiasm, your excitement, and to reinforce and support your key points and ideas. Just as presenters are encouraged to expand their vocal range to avoid a monotone presentation, so too is it important to avoid a static expression throughout your entire talk. Observe your audience. Do they look confused? Disinterested? Just as your audience picks up cues through your facial expressions, you too may be able to make perceptions about your audience. (Just be mindful that not every neutral expression indicates boredom or disinterest.) Hone your talent. As with any language, using and practicing it leads to mastery. Nonverbal language is no different. As you practice and rehearse your talk, think about what your facial expressions are conveying and if they are effective. Do they align with your words? Do you appear natural and authentic? Do they support and reinforce your key ideas?
Correct Body Posture During a Presentation
It’s hard to think of a single situation where slouching would be advised – and a presentation is no exception. The correct presentation posture if you are standing is to …
- Square your shoulders with the audience
- Relax your stance. You are not standing at attention!
- Face them directly instead of tilting your body away from them. (The exception to this rule is when you are soliciting feedback from your audience. In that case, turning your body at a slight angle can encourage engagement.)
The correct presentation posture if you are sitting is to …
- Lean forward slightly
- Plant your feet firmly on the floor (avoid crossing your legs)
- Avoid slouching into the chair
Beyond the confidence this posture projects to your audience, researchers have found when you throw those shoulders back or sit upright in your chair, that feeds into your self-confidence , too.
How to Improve Body Language for Presentations
The best way to project body language in a presentation is to be natural. And while it may sound counterintuitive, one of the ways you can appear and feel more natural in your movements is to practice them. This is why it’s important to save some time for rehearsals or practice runs.
Some of the best ways to test your material and your delivery are to record yourself, offer a practice run to an audience of colleagues or friends, and recreate the run-through so that it is as close to the live event as possible.
And, please, this is not the time for harsh criticism. Use this opportunity to see where you did well, such as projecting a confident smile, standing tall, and maintaining meaningful eye contact. Also, look for the areas where you can improve. Did you employ effective body language with your PowerPoint presentation slides? (Here’s are some specific ways to improve your PowerPoint presentation through body language and gestures.)
If you were on a panel, did it appear as if you were slouching? Did you appear nervous or ill at ease? (Here are some ways to counter your fear of public speaking . ) Use this time to hone your skills. Every presentation – whether practice or “live” – is a chance to improve.
Success occurs with preparation, and growth occurs with practice, whether you are a novice or seasoned pro. Here are some specific ways to make the most out of that preparation.
Practice in Front of a Mirror
There are several reasons that video recording a practice run-through – either with a camera or smartphone – will help your presentation run a whole lot smoother. In addition to tracking such things as your timing, your pace, and the overall flow of your presentation (For example, do you vary the time for each main point? Do you have a mix of message supports, including statistics, stories, and slides?), you also can analyze your body language. Here are some of the things you want to look and listen for:
- The pace, pitch, and tone of your voice and how effective those elements were in conveying your main points.
- How well you maintained eye contact with your “audience.”
- Your gestures and whether they add emphasis to your talk and reinforce key ideas.
- Any mannerisms that are creating distractions, such as pacing in a predictable pattern, fidgeting with your tie or jewelry, or constantly brushing your hair back.
Watch the tape, identify the two or three things you want to improve upon, and do another practice run. If you improve, add another element, and then do another practice run if you have the time.
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Rehearse in Front of Team Members
While a video recording can be an effective way to assess your presentation skills, rehearsing in front of an audience of colleagues is key to getting a feel for the “real” thing. It gives you a chance to assess the nonverbal communication of your audience in real-time, and make the body language presentation fixes that will help you to increase your chances that you are connecting with your audience and helping your messages stick. You can make these sessions more effective in several ways. They include:
Treating your practice like the real thing. Avoid caveats or skimming through sections ( “When I really give my talk, I’ll tell a funny story here.” ) Asking for honest reactions. Your team may be rooting for you, but they need to react honestly if your words are falling flat, your energy is low, or you are spending too much time looking and reading from your notes. Embracing slip-ups, technical difficulties, and distractions. You may be tempted to start over, but plow through any hiccups so you gain the confidence and experience in dealing with difficulties before your talk goes “live.”
( Here are 20 questions you can ask your practice audience. )
Additional Presentation Body Language Tips
Your facial expressions, your posture, and your eye contact are all important elements in your nonverbal delivery. But you have other body language presentation cues that you also can use to make your presentation more effective. Remember, your hands can do some “talking” and your feet can do some walking in the service of your speech.
Hand gestures during a presentation can be used to do many things, including:
- Adding emphasis to a word or point
- Pointing something out on a slide or other visual support
- Reinforcing a concept
In practice, this means you might hold your fingers up for each point you want to make ( “No. 1 is this …” ). Or, with an outstretched hand – palm open – you direct your audience’s attention to a point of data on your chart. Finally, if you are comparing two recommendations perhaps you pantomime a scale with your hands, indicating that one side should win out over the other.
As for movement, unless you must stay tethered to the lectern, make the most of your space. Movement is one way to keep your audience alert and its attention on you. This leads to a more dynamic presentation and better connection with the audience.
When done with intention and confidence, your gestures and your movement – really, your overall body language in a presentation – will help to solidify your credibility, reveal your control of your material and the room, and help you to emphasize your key points.
Here are some specific tips on how to incorporate these additional body language presentation techniques into your talk.
What To Do With Your Hands During a Presentation
You may have been told it’s best not to gesture when speaking, but in our work with clients we have found that speakers become less anxious, appear more natural, and remember and retrieve their words far more effectively when they gesture during their presentations.
And the research backs that up. Gesturing not only adds emphasis and verve to your words but also can help you to better remember what you want to say.
However, there is a difference between gesturing and fidgeting. For instance, when you hold out your hand with the palm facing up when calling on someone during your Q&A, it is an effective and open gesture. It encourages engagement and connection. But, if you are hands are in constant motion, such as clasping and unclasping your fingers, twirling the ring on your finger, picking at your nails, or touching your face or hair, then your gestures can become a distraction.
When gesturing, remember to:
Be authentic. Start with what comes naturally and work from there. Forced movement will be seen for what it is – forced. Be purposeful. Trade fast, undisciplined hand movements during the presentation for gestures with intent. Be open. Avoid gestures such as pointing at your audience, gesturing toward them with your palm down, or crossing your arms – all of which can have a negative connotation or make you appear “closed” off and inaccessible. Be aware of cultural differences. Although certain presentation hand gestures and expressions fall under a universal language, gestures do not necessarily mean the same thing in every culture. For instance, your OK sign may mean just that, but to a person from another country, it might just be highly offensive. (Here’s a look at some of the more common nonverbal faux pas.)
What if My Hands Won’t Stop Shaking?
Anxiety has a way of hijacking whatever veneer of calm you, as a speaker, may have managed to induce before your talk. One of the ways your nervousness manifests itself is through your trembling hands. You may notice the shakiness as you organize your notes or take a sip of water. Most of the time, what you see as full-on earthquakes more typically come across as small-time tremors – if they are noticed at all by your audience. For most people, once the initial jitters ease, those tiny tremors fade. However, if that trembling never eases and you are wondering how to stop shaking hands during a presentation, it’s best to think beyond the symptoms and get to the core of the issue – anxiety. To do that, you must identify the cause of your fear – here are eight causes of public speaking fear – before you can find the techniques that will help you to reduce and manage it .
Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
Moving Around During a Presentation: Is That OK?
Movement is one way to keep your audience alert and its attention on you. Make the most of your space and your body language presentation skills so that you can create a more dynamic presentation and a better connection with your audience. What you don’t want to do is pace or create a predictable pattern in how you move around the room. That said, there are several ways you can utilize your space more effectively while walking during your presentation.
Here are several:
Use your movement to emphasize your points . You can begin on one side of the room and share your first, before moving to the other side for Point No. 2. Make your way to the center for your last point. Approach your audience. When answering questions or seeking participation, walk toward your audience. Avoid swaying. If you are standing still, try to avoid rocking from side to side. You can counter this by placing one foot about two to three inches in front of the other.
How You Dress is Important, Too
Here are a few tips:
Choose the outfit that best supports your message, which means knowing the tone you want to set about your topic and who you are. Purchase an iron or get your clothes pressed. You can certainly present in casual clothes, but wrinkles are a no-go in nearly any situation. Consider your accessories carefully. Ostentatious jewelry or lapel pins will probably attract more attention than you want them to. They also could interfere with your microphone. Be wary of fabrics that rustle or shoes that make noises when you move. Not only will that distract you, but your audience will notice it, too.
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Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Presentations > How to use body language effectively during your presentation
How to use body language effectively during your presentation
Understanding grammar basics will make you a better writer, and mastering prepositional phrases is key. To improve your writing and communicate clearly to your audience, know what prepositional phrases are and how to use them correctly.
Your body has something to say
Body language is a powerful form of nonverbal communication. Whether you’re talking with a friend or waiting for a bus, your body is always sending signals out to those around you. During a presentation, when all eyes are on you, the importance of body language is heightened. Here’s some key areas to be aware of:
- Your facial expressions. You can heighten or emphasize your message as you speak or pause with subtle movements such as raised eyebrows or larger expressions such as a smile.
- Your hands. Your hands might be at your sides, in your pockets or gesturing to illustrate a point or your material. Each position conveys something different to observers.
- Your feet. Are you staying in one place, shifting your weight from foot to foot, or walking around? How fast are you walking? Those are potential clues to your feelings in the moment.
- Your position. How close are you standing to others? Are you standing straight or slouched slightly. Are you in front of, next to, or behind your materials and visual aids? During a presentation, position is key—try standing in front of a projector and see if your message gets across.
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Making body language work effectively for you
If you think about the areas above, you can probably think of strengths and challenges you have with each. Maybe you tend to “talk with your hands” or shrink away from your audience because of presentation anxiety . These tips can help you remember what to focus on and help you overcome some of your natural tendencies that might be distracting your audience. You’re the area of focus, so whatever you do will have a disproportionate impact on those watching.
- Smile. Smiling can help you feel more confident in the moment and eventually raise your level of happiness. Plus, you’ll look more approachable and even glad to see your audience, no matter if you’re still a bit nervous. Of course, if your content is more serious or has a moment where the tone changes, make sure your expression is appropriate for what you’re saying. But a slight smile that says, “I know what I’m talking about, and I want to share it with you” is generally a good default face to have.
- Shift your gaze. It’s totally ok if you’re still at the “look above the audience’s head” stage of presenting, and eye contact is less important in virtual presentations , since you need to be focused on the camera. But if you’re in person and you’re able to direct where you look, doing a slow pan glance over the crowd, or finding a few friendly faces to periodically zoom in on, can help provide that important illusion of confidence and strengthen your connection to the audience overall.
- Think about when you want to gesture. Don’t be afraid to gesture but try to choose gestures that will emphasize your language or your topic in any given moment, rather than wildly waving your hands about. Controlled gestures are a very effective tool, as your audience’s eyes will follow your hands—but not if they realize your hands are going nowhere most of the time.
- Be open and try to stand up straight. Have your shoulders tilted toward the audience rather than away to convey your desire to connect with them. Also, avoid slouching, which can also project a lack of confidence in your words or material, and instead try to subtly point your chest toward the crowd, as if you’re leading with your message. And try to be rooted but ready, not shifting from side to side as you speak.
- Control your pace. While you can stand in one spot while you present, it’s sometimes more impactful to be able to move around slightly when illustrating a point or perhaps telling a story. Try to move slowly and with purpose so as not to look too nervous, like you’re pacing, and so you can avoid being a distraction to those who already have trouble focusing. And, it goes without saying that you want to make sure you’re not talking too fast, particularly if you’re committed to moving around.
You can practice your presentation with an eye toward rethinking your body language, or if you’re working on a new one, look for moments to incorporate strategic body language, as if you’re an actor working through a scene. Have a friend or trusted colleague watch you and take notes so they can share feedback later, and if someone else isn’t handy, the mirror is a tried-and-true way to reflect on how you might be coming across as you speak.
Using body language effectively can take your presentations up a notch. So, start thinking about how you can train your body to be just as convincing and as confident as your words, and soon, the audience will be hanging on your every sentence.
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Body Language During Presentation? Best 14 Tips To Use In 2023
Mattie Drucker • 02 Oct 2023 • 10 min read
What your body language during presentation says about you? Do’s and Don’ts! Let’s learn the best tips with AhaSlides!
So, what is the best presentation posture? Got awkward hands syndrome? You probably don’t because I just made that up. But – we all have moments when we don’t know what to do with our hands, legs, or any part of our body.
You may have a fantastic icebreaker , impeccable introduction , and excellent presentation, but the delivery is where it matters most. You don’t know what to do with yourself, and it’s perfectly normal .
- Tips for Better Engagement
- Personality in a Presentation
- How do you Express Yourself?
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To what extent do you know about a successful presentation? Aside from well-designed PowerPoint templates, it is important to utilize other performance skills, especially Body language.
Now that you know that body language is an irreplaceable part of presentation skills, it is still far from mastering these skills to deliver effective presentations.
This article will give you a holistic view of body language and how to take advantage of these skills for your perfect presentations.
Table of Contents
- Importance of body language during a presentation
Consider Your Appearance
Smile, and smile again, open your palms, make eye contact, hand clasping, touching ear.
- Don’t Point Your Finger
Control your Voice
Walking around, frequently asked questions, importance of body language for presentation.
With body language presentations, when it comes to communication, we mention verbal and non-verbal terms. It is crucial to remember that these terms have a relative relationship. Hence, what it is?
Verbal communication is using words to share information with other people, including both spoken and written language. For example, the word “how’s it going” that you choose to let others understand what you are trying to greet them.
Nonverbal communication is the transfer of information through body language, facial expressions, gestures, created space, and more. For example, smiling when you meet someone conveys friendliness, acceptance, and openness.
Whether or not you’re aware of it, when you interact with others, you’re constantly giving and receiving wordless signals besides talking. All of your nonverbal behaviours—your posture, your intonation, the gestures you make, and how much eye contact you make—deliver vital messages.
In particular, they can put people at ease, build trust, and draw attention, or they may offend and bewilder what you are attempting to express. These messages don’t stop when you stop speaking, either. Even when you’re silent, you’re still communicating nonverbally.
Similarly, a presentation is also a way of communicating with your audience; while speaking up about your idea, show body language to emphasize it. Thus, understanding the importance of non-verbal and verbal communication skills simultaneously will help you avoid dull presentations.
To make it much more straightforward, we explore elements of body language, a part of non-verbal communication skills. Body language comprises gestures, stances, and facial expressions. When you are presenting, robust and positive body language becomes a powerful instrument for building credibility, expressing your emotions, and connecting with your listeners. It also helps your listeners to concentrate more intently on you and your speech. Here, we give you 10+ language body examples and tips to leverage your
10 Tips to master Body Language in Presentations
First, it is essential to have a neat look during presentations. Depending on which occasion, you may have to prepare the appropriate outfit and well-groomed hair to show your professionalism and respect to your listeners.
Think about the type and style of the event; they may have a strict dress code. Choose an outfit you’re much more likely to feel poised and confident in front of an audience. Avoid colours, accessories, or jewellery that might distract the audience, make noise, or cause glare under stage lights.
Don’t forget to “smile with your eyes” instead of just your mouth when smiling. It would help to make others feel your warmth and sincerity. Remember to maintain the smile even after an encounter—in fake happiness encounters; you may often see an “on-off” smile that flashes and then vanishes quickly after two people go their separate directions.
When gesturing with your hands, make sure your hands are open most of the time and people can see your open palms. It is also a good idea to keep the palms facing most of the time upward rather than downward.
It is usually a bad idea to make eye contact with individual members of your audience! Finding a sweet spot for “long enough” to look at your listeners without being offensive or creepy is necessary. Give it a try to look at others for about 2 seconds to lessen awkwardness and nervousness. Don’t look at your notes to make more connections with your listeners.
Check out tips on Eye Contact in Communication
You may find these gestures helpful when you want to conclude a meeting or end an interaction with someone. If you want to appear confident, you can use this cue with your thumbs stuck out—this signals confidence instead of stress.
Around close friends and trusted others, it’s lovely to relax your hands in your pockets once in a while. But if you want to make the other feel insecure, sticking your hands deep in your pockets is a surefire way to do it!
Touching the ear or a self-soothing gesture subconsciously takes place when a person is anxious. But do you know it is a good help when encountering difficult questions from audiences? Touching your ear when thinking of solutions may make your overall posture more natural.
Don’t Point Your Finger
Whatever you do, don’t point. Just make sure you never do it. Pointing a finger while talking is taboo in many cultures, not only in presentations. People always find it aggressive and uncomfortable, offensive somehow.
In any presentation, speak slowly and clearly. When you want to underline the main points, you may speak even more slowly and repeat them. Intonation is necessary; let your voice rise up and down to make you sound natural. Sometimes say nothing for a while to have better communication.
Moving around or staying in one spot when you are presenting is fine. Yet, don’t overuse it; avoid walking back and forth all the time. Walk when you intend to engage the audience or while you are telling a funny story, or while the audience is laughing
4 Body Gestures Tips
In this article, we’ll spell out some quick tips on body language and how to develop your presentation skills regarding:
- Eye contact
- Hands & Shoulders
- Back & Head
Your body language is crucial because it not only makes you look more confident, assertive, and collected, but you will also end up feeling these things. You also should avoid looking down while talking.
Eyes – Body Language During Presentation
Don’t avoid eye contact like it’s the plague. Many people don’t know how to make eye contact and are taught to stare at the back wall or someone’s forehead. People can tell when you’re not looking at them and will perceive you to be nervous and distant. I was one of those presenters because I thought public speaking was the same as acting. When I did theatre productions in high school, they encouraged us to look at the back wall and not engage with the audience because it would take them out of the fantasy world we were creating. I learned the hard way that acting is not the same as public speaking. There are similar aspects, but you don’t want to block the audience from your presentation – you want to include them, so why would you pretend they aren’t there?
On the other hand, some people are taught to look at just one person who is also a bad habit. Staring at one individual the entire time will make them very uncomfortable and that atmosphere will distract the other audience members as well.
DO connect with people like you would a normal conversation. How do you expect people to want to engage with you if they don’t feel seen? One of the most helpful presentation skills I’ve learned from Nicole Dieker is that people love attention! Take time to connect with your audience. When people feel that a presenter cares about them, they feel important and encouraged to share their emotions. Shift your focus to different audience members to foster an inclusive environment. Especially engage with those already looking at you. Nothing is worse than staring down at someone looking at their phone or program.
Use as much eye contact as you would when talking to a friend. Public speaking is the same, just on a larger scale and with more people.
Hands – Body Language During Presentation
Don’t restrict yourself or overthink it. There are so many ways to hold your hands incorrectly, like behind your back (which comes off as aggressive and formal), below your belt (limiting movement), or stiffly by your sides (which feels awkward). Don’t cross your arms; this comes off as defensive and aloof. Most importantly, don’t over-gesture! This will not only become exhausting, but the audience will begin to fixate on how tired you must be rather than the content of your presentation. Make your presentation easy to watch, and, therefore, easy to understand.
DO rest your hands at a neutral position. This will be a bit above your belly button. The most successful looking neutral position is either holding one hand in another or simply just touching them together in whatever way your hands would naturally. Hands, arms, and shoulders are the most important visual cue for the audience. You should gesture like your typical body language in a regular conversation. Don’t be a robot!
Below is a quick video by Steve Bavister , and I recommend you watch it to visualize what I just described.
Legs – Body Language During Presentation
Don’t lock your legs and stand still. Not only is it dangerous, but it also makes you look uncomfortable (making the audience uncomfortable). And no one likes to feel uncomfortable! The blood will start to pool in your legs, and without movement, the blood will have difficulty recirculating to the heart. This makes you susceptible to passing out, which would definitely be … you guessed it … uncomfortable . On the contrary, don’t move your legs too much. I’ve been to a few presentations where the speaker is rocking back and forth, back and forth, and I paid so much attention to this distracting behaviour that I forgot what he was talking about!
DO use your legs as an extension of your hand gestures. Take a step forward if you want to make a statement that connects with your audience. Take a step back if you want to give space for thought after an astounding idea. There is a balance to it all. Think of the stage as a single plane – you shouldn’t turn your back on the audience. Walk in a way inclusive of all people in the space and move around so you can be visible from every seat.
Back – Body Language During Presentation
Don’t fold into yourself with slumped shoulders, drooping head, and curved neck. People have subconscious biases against this form of body language and will begin to question your capability as a presenter if you project as a defensive, self-conscious, and insecure speaker. Even if you don’t identify with these descriptors, your body will show it.
DO convince them of your confidence with your posture. Stand straight like your head is connected to a taught string attached to the ceiling. If your body language portrays confidence, you will become confident. You will be surprised by how little adjustments will improve or worsen your speech delivery. Try using these presentation skills in the mirror and see for yourself!
Lastly, if you have confidence in your presentation, your body language will improve drastically. Your body will reflect how proud you are of your visuals and preparedness. AhaSlides is a great tool to use if you want to become a more confident presenter and WOW your audience with real-time interactive tools they can access while you’re presenting. Best part? It’s free!
So, what does body language during the presentation say about you? Let’s take advantage of our tips and consider how to incorporate them into your presentation. Don’t hesitate to practice in front of the mirror at home or with a familiar audience and ask for feedback. Practice makes perfect. You’ll be able to master your body language and get favourable outcomes from your presentation .
Extra tip : For a virtual online presentation or wearing a mask, you may encounter difficulties in showing body language; you can think of leveraging your presentation template to capture the audience’s attention with 100+ AhaSlides types of presentation templates .
What to do with your hands when presenting
When presenting, it’s important to use your hands purposefully to make a positive impression and enhance your message. Therefore, you should keep your hands relaxed with open palms, use gestures to benefit your presentation and maintain eye contact with your audience.
When presenting to a neutral audience, why should I present both sides of the issue?
Presenting both sides of an issue to a neutral audience is essential, as it helps lots to engage with the audience, enables your critical thinking skills, makes your presentation better and also helps to increase credibility.
Which type of gestures should be avoided in a speech?
You should avoid distraction gestures, like: speaking dramatically but not relevant to your contents; fidgeting like tapping your fingers or playing with objects; pointing fingers (which show disrespect); crossing arms and surprisingly and overly formal gestures!
Public speaking trainer at AhaSlides
More from AhaSlides
Importance of Body Language in Presentations (+ Good & Bad Examples)
All eyes are on you.
Before you’ve even spoken the first word, your audience can already read how you’re feeling through your body language.
Nonverbal cues are the key indicators of your true emotions. If you’re a nervous presenter, this doesn’t work to your advantage, but fear not, as it is a skill that can be taught and mastered with practice.
We’ll dive into the importance of body language in presenting, which nonverbal cues are most important when presenting and what not to do when all eyes are on you. Plus, how to use body language in sit-down presentations.
- Why is Body Language Important in Presentations
5 Non-Verbal Cues to Think About When Presenting
What body language not to use when presenting.
- Body Language Tips to Rock Your Next Presentation
- BONUS: How to Use Body Language for a Remote Presentation
Why is Body Language Important in Presentations?
In simple terms, body language can make or break your presentation.
Anyone can get up on stage and talk. But it’s how you present and use body language to convey your passion and authority that will keep your audience engaged in the long run. Your body language can reinforce your points and guide your audience towards the next stage of your presentation.
Before you’ve even said the first word of your presentation or speech, it’s likely that the audience has already decided whether they trust you or not.
There are lots of different aspects that go into acing your body language. We’ll go over 5 of them in more detail.
Body language is heavily influenced by 5 other nonverbal cues that you should be aware of when presenting – trust us, they make a big difference. These include:
- Hand gestures
- Eye contact
- Facial expressions
Let's get started...
1. Hand gestures
The purpose of hand gestures during a presentation is to make your message clearer, not more complicated. Using the right amount of hand gestures is the key. Overly exaggerated gestures can be distracting but using clear gestures can add impact to your points. For example, using gestures to address certain slides, making contrasts or a numbered list – the combination of visual and audio aids will draw in your audience’s attention.
Show your enthusiasm through controlled and natural gestures, not forced hand gestures that can distract your audience.
2. Eye contact
Have you ever heard someone say, “…you could see the emotion in their eyes”? This isn’t a lie. Human beings portray lots of emotion and feelings in their eyes, so much so that many of us can understand what another person is saying just by eye movements alone. Use the audience’s eyes and body language to gauge their reaction to your presentation – if they look bored, make changes to your tone or try to engage them.
When it comes to eye contact when presenting, aim to use 50% eye contact as you’re speaking and looking around the room intently to show your audience your confidence and interest in the subject. Your eyes can also help incorporate the audience into your presentation, making them feel part of the process.
Presentation posture is all about standing tall, chin up and open arms – never crossed. This can be tricky if you’re a nervous presenter. But, if your audience can tell that you’re afraid of them, it’ll be hard to win over their trust and full attention.
Stand with your feet apart, shoulders open and naturally relaxed. This will convey confidence and authority and will invite your audience in, instead of pushing them away. Having good posture will also help you to breathe more easily and project your voice further across the room – particularly useful if you’re presenting to a big group.
Here are several great examples of presentation posture:
X marks the spot. There’s an old myth that every presenter should stand still, feet shoulder width apart and just simply speak – almost like a statue. Now, we see some of the best presenters (whether it be during TED Talks or CEO product launches) walking around the stage with confidence and natural energy. We are human beings after all – it’s not in our nature to simply stand still.
It’s easy to get this confused though. The key is not to walk or pace around as if you’re getting your daily steps in. Instead, walk slowly between your key talking points when describing less important details of your presentation. Use your movements to punctuate your statements and stop to make an impact. Just be sure to match your movements with your presentation slides in the background so your audience isn’t distracted.
Want more body language examples? View our other post on why body language is important in communication for bonus videos.
5. Facial expressions
We, humans, can make over 10,000 facial expressions. When it comes to presenting, your facial expressions can suggest a lot to your audience. For example, a monotone facial expression can suggest a lack of interest or belief in your own ideas to your audience. If you’re not interested in your own words and ideas, you can’t expect your audience to be.
It’s important to fully utilise the power of facial expressions when presenting. Watch the faces of your audience to get an insight into how they’re feeling as you present – then you can make adjustments to your own expressions to keep them engaged. Also, if your audience is a big one, ensure you exaggerate your expressions so everyone can read your face.
1. Slouch or look uncomfortable
We get it, presenting isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But sometimes it cannot be avoided, especially if you hold a senior position in the organisation. Your posture tells a lot more about you than you think. Try to stand up straight, take your arms away from your body and relax your shoulders.
Not only will this make you feel more confident, but it’ll also make you look more confident, and it will tell your audience that you know what you’re talking about giving them a reason to believe you.
Watch this video for an example of a good and bad presentation – see if you can spot the differences! Tag us on Twitter at @UModernGov and tell us what you find.
2. Turn away from your audience
Moving around in the right moments of your presentation can be impactful but be sure to not turn your back on your audience at any point. As 93% of communication is nonverbal, turning your back on your audience means you’ve lost the impact of your nonverbal cues, but you’re also making it difficult for your audience to hear you and understand what you truly mean.
It’s okay to gesture to the screen if you’re talking about a specific presentation slide, but make sure to keep your body language open and turn towards your audience to keep the attention on your point.
3. Use too many/over-exaggerated hand gestures
Although hand gestures can be a great way to show your passion for a subject, using too many or overly extravagant hand gestures can be distracting or even off-putting to some audience members. You don’t want them spending their time calculating which direction their arms are going to go in next – you want them focused on your words and presentation.
3 Body Language Tips to Rock Your Next Presentation
- Maintain eye contact – No matter how big or small your audience is, look them in the eye. No, we don’t mean staring so much to creep them out, we mean looking at them every so often to create a bond and ensure they are focused on you and your words.
- Use open body language – Avoid closing yourself off. If you’re standing still and tense, your audience will feel this. Using open body language will help you clearly express your message in a positive professional and natural manner.
- Get advice or record yourself to see how your body language really looks – it can be difficult to know how your body language really comes across when presenting, especially if it’s not something you do often. Ask a friend to help you practice your presentation or record a practice run to help you see how to improve your body language.
Use this helpful graphic to understand the body language you use and how you can improve.
Bonus: How to Use Body Language for a Remote Presentation
Sometimes you might not have the option of conducting a standing presentation. If this is the case, there are things you can do to still promote positive body language to your audience. Sitting down and presenting your ideas or opinions can offer a great chance to be intimate with your listeners. Use this time to engage in natural sharing in a casual and relaxed tone – putting the listeners at ease.
While you might not have the chance to use your full body to show communication, you can still keep your arms open, and back straight, hand gestures natural and use clear facial expressions and eye contact to support your points.
5 Quick Tips for an Effective Remote Presentation:
- Use vocal variety and modulation to increase your personal impact: A monotonous voice is difficult to listen to so ensure that yours is full of vocal colour. Practice by reading out loud and varying tone, emphasis, and pitch and never forget the power of the pause.
- Become an excellent storyteller : Create a narrative for the meeting so that it flows efficiently. Use examples and stories and ask questions to engage your colleagues in order to get buy-in so that you influence effectively.
- Articulate your message with clarity: Ensure that every word can be easily understood by opening your mouth well and using your articulators - tongue, teeth, lips, hard and soft palate - to maintain clarity. Keep your message short and concise to achieve maximum impact.
- Sit "well" and own your space: Ensure your feet are flat on the ground and that your sitting bones are comfortably in the back of the seat. Sitting too close to the screen can come across as being mildly threatening to the viewer. Use gestures with definition, but also with grace.
- Be aware of your physical presentation: Dress appropriately in single-block colours to avoid distraction. Look behind you to ensure the backdrop your colleagues are witnessing is one you want to reveal.
Your Voice and Body Language Go Hand in Hand – Learn How to Combine The Two Effectively
Now you’ve got your body language in check, it’s time to make sure your words follow suit. Take a look at our upcoming Confidence & Resilience training courses to present the maximum impact.
Why is Body Language Important in Communication?
25 Common Body Language Types | Plus Examples in Action
What Your Digital Body Language Says About You | Plus Tips to Improve
9 Ways You Can Use Body Language to Improve Your Presentation
From the z anda x presentation skills blog.
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Body Language in PPT Presentations: 8 Tips & Tricks
Gestures and facial expressions play a major role in shaping our communication. This also applies to PPT presentations: A presenter’s body language is a crucial factor in influencing the audience’s response to content and key messages.
So, you’ve got great content, slick PowerPoint slides and the latest presentation technology. Don’t forget one of the most versatile and effective presentation tools at your disposal – your body .
If you hide behind the podium, ignore your posture or use awkward gestures and facial expressions, you’ll have no chance of convincing your audience. In this article, we’ll show you eight effective tips and tricks to use body language to your best advantage.
Why body language is so important in PPT presentations
Admittedly , body language is something we tend to use unconsciously — it’s difficult for us to control. Most of the time, we don’t notice that our body language has an adverse effect on our presentation until it’s too late. Nervousness plays a role in this, especially when presenting in front of a large audience. Our hands get cold and clammy, we gesture too much and too excitedly, or we just hide behind the podium.
The wrong gestures can impact negatively on your presentation. Even the most polished PPT presentation will fall flat if we hide our hands in pockets, gesture too much or slouch. Audiences decide within a few seconds whether the speaker is likeable or competent.
Body language and gestures are just as important for a successful presentation as the content itself. It pays to review your rhetoric skills from time to time and brush up on them.
How can facial expressions enhance a presentation?
Facial expressions show the audience how the speaker feels about the content. The more you connect with your content on an emotional level , the more impact your words will have on your audience. With a little practice, you can find the right facial expressions to set the right tone for your presentation.
Tip : Practice your facial expressions in front of a mirror. How do you feel when you smile? Is your smile genuine? Or give your presentation in front of a familiar audience, such as your family or friends. Get honest feedback on your facial expressions and try to incorporate the critique. You can also find many helpful videos online.
How can the right gestures enhance your presentation?
A gesture is a hand or arm movement that expresses or emphasizes an idea. Many presenters know the feeling of not knowing where to put their hands during a presentation. A common awkward reaction is to clasp your hands behind your body or just let your arms hang. This often comes across as insecure, unprofessional and uninspired. Instead, use your hands to punctuate your presentation at specific points and underline key messages . This communicates professionalism and dynamism.
Here’s an example : You present a process in your presentation using a diagram. Leaving your arms hanging down from your body gives the impression that you’re uninterested and unmotivated. Don’t underestimate the power of gestures – use them to your advantage!
With that in mind, let’s go back to the example above . Whenever you explain a new section of the process, point to where you are on the slide. Or punctuate the process itself. If the process went forward, represent this with forward-moving had gesture. If it went backward, make a backward motion with your hands. This shows that you’re involved, energized and professional.
Tip : Again, be sure to practice in front of a mirror beforehand. Which gestures complement your presentation? Do they support your statements? Next, test these gestures in front of family and friends. Make sure to get feedback. You can also find a lot of online resources to help you, for example here .
Here are some helpful tips and tricks for using your body language correctly.
Effective body language during presentations: 8 tips and tricks
The right way to present: sitting or standing.
Are you someone who likes to keep it comfortable and plan to sit during your presentation? Please don’t! When you present, you need to be the literal center of attention . Presenting while sitting will immediately take the focus off you. You’ll appear unmotivated, uninspired and limit how much body language you can use. If you’re sitting behind a table or have your laptop in front of you, you’re basically hiding from your audience.
Stand while presenting. You’ll have freedom to move around and use your body language in a more purposeful way. You’ll appear more animated and motivated. Be aware of distracting objects in front of you, such as tables, and remove them. You want to be fully visible to the audience and not create an unconscious barrier.
Posture: How to stand correctly
You now that you should stand while presenting. Standing – sounds simple, right? Even here, you need to pay attention to a few points:
- Don’t stand with your legs too far apart . This can make you look less elegant.
- Don’t stand with your legs too close together. It’s an easy way to lose your footing and maybe even trip.
- Do stand with your legs about shoulder width apart so you have a firm and stable stance.
Also, stand up straight . Make yourself as tall as possible. Avoid slouching or slumping your shoulders forward . Rocking your upper body back and forth or swaying side to side creates an unsettled effect. What has a positive impact on your posture?
The answer is simple: Self-confidence . Know your presentation topic inside and out and rehearse your presentation several times over. The more familiar you are with your topic, the more confident you will appear . Self-confidence straightens the back.
Keep your head as still as possible while speaking . Raising your head and voice at the end of a sentence sounds like you’re asking a question. And this makes you seem less confident. Avoid nervous hair flicking or touching .
Hands & Gestures
You’re standing up straight with your head held high. What about your hands? As we described above, hand gestures can be game changers during a presentation.
Avoid the following pitfalls:
- Hands on hips: This quickly comes across as unsympathetic or judgmental.
- Hands in pockets: This makes them look insecure and unprofessional.
- Pen in hand: You may find yourself playing with the pen, either unconsciously or out of nervousness. No one wants to hear click…click…click… This can be incredibly distracting. ..click…click… This can be incredibly distracting.
- Crossed arms: It may be a comfortable position for you, but it expresses resistance and detachment. You’ll subconsciously build a barrier and come off as defensive to your audience.
The solution: Use gestures as often as possible to emphasize statements. Don’t worry about how often you should gesture. Feel free to use your hands whenever you feel it’s necessary. A good neutral position is with bent arms and hands at belly-button level. Leave a space between your elbows and torso when gesturing . This makes you take up more space and appear more confident. You can find more tips here .
Gear the use of gestures to the size of the audience. Smaller groups require “quieter gestures” . Raising your arms will quickly look artificial. The three-joint rule helps to correctly identify which gestures to use:
When speaking to a smaller group, use hand gestures , the so-called “quiet gestures” we mentioned above. With 20 to 30 people, the elbow, the second joint, should move the most . This creates “loud gestures” . Use the shoulder, the third joint, in front of a large audience only . These “louder gestures ” can be used to emphasize a point right to the back of a large room.
Gestures attract attention but don’t go overboard. Use your gestures strategically. The audience will follow your hands and be interested in what you have to say.
Everyone who presents has faced the question, ” Can I move around, or should I stay in one spot?”. Here’s the answer: you can do both. But there are some rules to follow in both cases. Here’s one: Avoid walking back and forth all the time – give your movements intention and meaning . For example, move after you’ve made a statement or finished a section. Or when you want to explain something from a different point of view .
Eye contact with an audience is key to a good presentation. Maintain eye contact with each audience member, but only one person at a time. Why? Most of us get nervous when we have to speak in front of several people. Our gaze moves from one audience member to the next, we wonder what they’re thinking — and we become insecure.
If you concentrate on only one person at a time, it will feel like you’re having a one-on-one conversation. Much less intimidating than addressing a large crowd at once, right ? In addition, each audience member will feel like you’re speaking to them directly – a positive and personal interaction that guarantees you’ll have their attention.
Keep in mind that if the room is large and at capacity, you’ll probably not be able to make eye contact with everyone present. In this situation, divide your audience into sections : front, center, back, left, right. Fixate on one person from one area and then another from the next area. Once you have made eye contact with one person from each area, start again from the first section.
You can also support your key messages by slightly lowering your chin at the end while maintaining eye contact with your audience. This will add weight to your statement and the audience will find you more credible and competent.
The right facial expressions
We’ve already described how facial expressions a major role in presentations. Here are some additional points to think about:
- A genuine smile always makes a good impression. Particularly when welcoming your audience, it can help you create a friendly, pleasant atmosphere.
- Use a neutral facial expression when presenting facts , such as figures and data. Emotions will seem out of place here.
- Emphasize important points with raised eyebrows and open eyes . A smile can also enhance the effect.
- If you have to present less-than-optimal data or results, pull your eyebrows down and squint your eyes a bit. This clearly signals a negative emotion.
- When you make a rhetorical pause or lose your train of thought, make sure that you keep your mouth closed . This will make you appear calm and confident. Breathe calmly and continue the sentence you have started.
Here’s a fun video about the science behind smiles and how to smile more effectively.
The right outfit
Ever heard the saying, “Clothes make the man (or woman)?”. We all know looking good is important, but did you know that your choice of outfit can directly affect your body language ? Choose something comfortable but at the same time is appropriate for the occasion (no sweatpants!). If you’re not a suit-and-tie guy, don’t decide to become one for your presentation. You’ll be uncomfortable and won’t be able to present confidently.
As for women: Sure, high heels look elegant, chic and businesslike. But make sure that you can walk in them if you want to wear them during your presentation. Nothing is worse than an unsteady gait or even slipping or falling. Think about your footwear!
Avoid wearing clothes that are too colorful or garish . This quickly distracts from your actual presentation and may even make your body language look funny. Coordinate your clothing with your background so that you don’t “disappear”.
Before you start your presentation, check that your clothes fit . Are all buttons closed? Is the zipper of the pants closed? This will allow you to go into the presentation with confidence, which will only benefit your body language.
Finally: Other countries, other body language
If you’re planning an international presentation, remember that your body language must be understandable to everyone . Learn about potential cultural differences between the body language you’re familiar with and what your audience understands.
Score points with the right body language in your PPT presentation!
Body language is a presentation tool which shouldn’t be ignored . Most of the time, body language happens naturally. Nevertheless, it’s important to focus on the right body language , especially during important presentations. Without a bit of forethought and practice, you can quickly come across as boring, awkward, unmotivated or unprofessional.
Use our tips and think about how you can incorporate them into your presentation. Don’t hesitate to practice in front of a familiar audience and ask for feedback. With practice, you’ll be able to perfect your body language and get the best results from your presentation . A good video summary on body language in presentations can be found here .
Extra tip: Here are some tips for online PPT presentations or when you have to present wearing a mask .
We’re happy to help you with and questions about body language, general questions about presenting or PowerPoint presentations themselves. Feel free to contact us at [email protected] .
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How to use body language during a presentation
- 19 February 2018
- 10 minute read
It’s easy to spend a long time agonising over what to say when it comes to giving a presentation. However, it’s important to remember that a great presentation is about much more than just content. Elsewhere on the Future Skills Blog we’ve talked about the most important public speaking skills to have in general, but here we’re going to focus on body language.
Body language can make all the difference between a dull, static presentation and a dynamic, engaging one. Of course, body language has many different elements, and so we’ve broken it down into five categories:
- Facial expressions
- Eye contact
- Position and movement
Some of these may seem like small details, but they have a big impact on how your presentation comes across. When your body language is working hand in hand with the other aspects of your presentation, such as content and tone of voice, then you’re sure to win over your audience.
1) Facial expressions
People will travel half-way around the world to meet one another “face-to-face” for a reason – when it comes to interacting with others, what we do with our faces is vital. We may not usually control our facial expressions in any conscious way, but there are times when we have to think about what our face is telling others, such as when giving a presentation. Study-body-language.com has produced a fun guide to facial expressions and why they matter.
The first and most obvious thing to remember is to make sure that you are using your face at all. Giving a presentation with a blank face, without any particular facial expression is like speaking in a monotone – no matter how great your content is, your audience will not be engaged. Even some simple steps from the outset, such as opening your eyes wider, raising your eyebrows a little, and smiling, can make a huge difference in setting the tone for your presentation. You can also “reset” at different points during your presentation to make sure that you haven’t fallen back into a dull resting expression and to re-engage your audience’s attention.
Of course, putting rehearsed facial expressions into your speech mechanically is never going to be effective, and what you do with your face should look natural. The important thing is to be attentive to what you’re saying. If your facial expressions are in line with the tone of your words, then the information you are presenting will come across more clearly, and you will seem more sincere. Remember that the expression you wear tells people a lot about how trustworthy you are. Don’t forget that the size of the room and the audience matters too – a bigger crowd requires bigger facial expressions.
2) Eye contact
Having thought about what your face is doing in general, it’s time to get even more specific and think about eye contact. This is crucial when it comes to communication, as explored in a recent Psychology Today article .
Just as with facial expressions and the other parts of body language we’ll be looking at below, the way in which you use eye contact and look at your audience depends on the size of the room and the audience. However, here are some general tips:
- Make sure you look at everyone – Staring at the same spot throughout a presentation is visually dull and unengaging for your audience. Make sure that by the end of your presentation you have made eye contact with everyone at least once – that might mean every individual if you have a small audience, or every section of a crowd if you have a bigger audience.
- Don’t be afraid of eye contact – Prolonged eye contact can make people nervous, but that’s because it’s so powerful. You may be perceived as aggressive or bullying. A brief glance, however, suggests that you are monitoring their expression as you speak to them, and thus that you care about how your message is being received. While it may be tempting to find a spot to stare at on the back wall, it is always better to try and make a more personal connection with members of your audience. But remember…
- Don’t stare – No one wants to feel uncomfortable or that they are being put on the spot. Keep your gaze moving and engage as many people as possible.
Again, remember that different situations call for different approaches, but as long as you are consciously using eye contact, you’ll be well on the way to making your presentation as involving as possible.
We’ve talked about facial expressions and eye contact, now it’s time to look at the bigger picture: posture. Whether you’re sitting or standing, the way in which you hold yourself is incredibly important and sets the tone for the whole presentation before it’s even begun.
With this in mind, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to posture during a presentation:
- DON’T slouch – In almost all presentation situations, your posture should be upright and open. This will make you look and feel more confident, and it will invite your audience in rather than pushing them away. If you are not sitting or standing upright it suggests that what you have to say is not particularly important to you. If you suggest to your audience that what you have to say is not really worthy of your attention they are unlikely to pay much attention either.
- DON’T be tense – It’s important to look and feel relaxed during a presentation. If you’re standing upright but look rigid, it won’t make a good impression. No matter how nervous you may feel, a speaker who seems to be afraid of his audience will not win their trust. Pause and take a deep breath before you begin, and remind yourself to relax at different points throughout the presentation. Pausing and giving your audience time to think about what you have just said is a good thing to do anyway. You can take that time consciously to relax and re-set your expression and posture.
- DO think about your audience – A formal presentation to the board of a company is very different to an interactive talk with schoolchildren. While you still need to be upright, open and relaxed in all situations, remember that different situations require different levels of formality. Do you want to be interrupted if someone has a question for example, or will you only take questions at the end of your presentation? Adapt your posture to be more open or more formal accordingly.
- DO be adaptable – If you are sat down or have a lectern for your presentation, don’t hold onto them for support or let them get in the way. You should have an open and communicative posture no matter what the specific set-up is. Be prepared to adapt to unexpected situations. If you are addressing a large audience or being recorded you may need to use a microphone – this may mean you have to remain at a lectern, or you have to hold a microphone in one hand, which can restrict your gestures. Try to find out beforehand, but if things are not at you expected, adapt quickly to make the best of the facilities provided.
In addition, Ethos3 also gives some very helpful advice on how to improve your posture for a presentation .
Varied facial expressions, eye contact and a good posture will put you well on the way to presentation success, but if you stand still without moving any other part of your body, it can create a very strange impression. On the other hand, over-rehearsed or exaggerated hand gestures can be off-putting and look unnatural.
A happy medium is needed. Remember that the purpose of using gestures when giving a presentation is to make your message clearer and more interesting. In short, your gestures should mean something. For example, if you are making a contrast between big and small, you can use hand gestures to represent this. If you are giving a numbered list, you can show the numbers with your hand so that both people’s eyes and ears are engaged. Alternatively, if you want to address the audience directly, you can gesture towards them (but try not to point aggressively as though you’re accusing them of something). If you have a PowerPoint slideshow or other visual aids, use gestures to draw people’s attention to them. If you have a particular point which is one of the key messages of your presentation you may want to make your gestures more exaggerated as you work up to that point – in this way you can communicate to the audience which of the things you have to say matter most to you.
The Science of People blog’s article on hand gestures gives some great insight into this aspect of presentation along with some further ideas. Remember that whatever happens, gestures should look relaxed and natural. If you are struggling with this, remember that practice makes perfect – film yourself presenting or ask your friends to give you feedback. Also, as with all the other aspects of body language we’ve been talking about, you’ll need to adjust things depending on the size of the room.
5) Position and movement
This last area is more variable depending on the specific set-up of your presentation. It will be clear straight away whether you have any flexibility over where you position yourself or if movement around the space is even possible, but it’s always worth considering.
For example, if you are giving your presentation on a big stage, a bit of movement around the space can help to create visual interest and keep different parts of the audience engaged. Likewise, if your presentation has interactive elements, you could move closer or slightly further back from the audience depending on whether they’re involved or not. The golden rule is that any movement should be clear and directed – you should never look like you’re just wandering around the stage. You may, for example, want to engage your audience early on in your presentation by moving to the front of the stage and asking them a question – “Who can tell me…”, “Put your hand up if you have ever…” – this not only enables you to make some judgements about how much your audience already knows about what you have to say, it also engages them and suggests that you care about their experiences. Most people are much happier if they feel a speaker is “talking to” them rather than “talking at” them with no concern for their opinions.
The five topics above give an overall sense of how you can use body language to make your presentation clearer, more engaging and more powerful. Remember that body language is not something you apply later to a pre-written script, but a core part of how you present. It should go hand-in-hand with every other aspect of the presentation, such as the content and the tone of your voice, to create a compelling overall experience for your audience. Good luck and happy presenting!
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Why is body language important in a presentation?
This is the first of three chapters about Body Language . To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Discuss the key features of an academic presentation
– Introduce the concept of body language when presenting
– Outline twelve body-language strategies for students of English for Academic Purposes (EAP)
Chapter 1: Why is body language important in a presentation?
Chapter 2: What is effective body language in a presentation?
Chapter 3: Which body-language mistakes should be avoided?
Before you begin reading...
- video and audio texts
- knowledge checks and quizzes
- skills practices, tasks and assignments
If you’re a student that’s studying at university in English then it’s quite likely that you’ll have to prepare an academic presentation to complete your bachelor’s or master’s degree . Even outside of academic contexts such as in job interviews or business meetings, the aspects of delivering a successful presentation are quite similar. Regardless of a presenter’s motivation for presenting, anyone that wishes to create an effective performance will want to focus on and improve aspects of their delivery, language accuracy and audience engagement.
This short three-chapter reader on body language focuses specifically on the features of facial expression, posture, position and movement that should, when used correctly, lead to a more successful academic presentation. This chapter first discusses the key features of presentations and body language, exploring the significance of these aspects when presenting in any context. Chapters 2 and 3 then introduce, explore and exemplify the twelve most important tips and pitfalls that students should follow and avoid if they wish to receive the highest grades in their assessments.
What are the key features of a presentation?
Students may not at first realise that there are many aspects that must be considered for a presentation to be successful. In truth, few people are naturally skilled at presenting (especially not the first time), and so practice and energy must be spent in evaluating personal weaknesses and in improving upon those weaknesses wherever necessary. While the topics of body language , delivery , presentation language and the use of visual aids all have their own more detailed short readers, we’ve nevertheless summarised these four aspects for your reference below:
What is body language?
Body language – also known as kinesics – is a type of non-verbal language in which a speaker uses their body to communicate with a listener or wider audience. A speaker may either (1) use their body to communicate as fully as in any other language, such as in sign language, (2) use only their body and not their voice to communicate simple concepts, as in mime, or (3) use their body to assist, deepen or emphasise their verbal communication – which is what we term the ‘body language’ of a presentation. Focussing on number three, there are five key types of body language that a new presenter should become familiar with, and these are:
- Gestures = such as using open hands or pointing towards a PowerPoint slide
- Eye Contact = how the presenter uses their eyes to incorporate the audience
- Postures = whether standing straight, spreading the legs, leaning or slouching
- Positioning = how the presenter moves about their performance space
- Facial Expressions = such as a smile, a raised eyebrow or a furrowed brow
It’s worth mentioning at this stage, however, that body language is somewhat cultural. A simple hand gesture or facial expression, for example, may mean one thing in one language and something entirely different in another. On Academic Marker , we will of course be referring to the interpretation of body language that’s most commonly used by English speakers around the globe.
Why is body language important?
While every feature of a presentation is likely to be just as important as the next, body language certainly assists in how confident, natural and engaging a speaker is. As a form of non-verbal input, body language can be used to guide the audience towards the correct opinion or the next part of the presentation. Such language can in fact be used to reinforce the speaker’s opinion or attach emphasis to a phrase, adding a layer of depth to the communication that words alone cannot muster. Ultimately, if you’re trying to get the best grade possible for an assessed academic presentation, or wish to impress your audience to the highest degree, then the careful application of correct body language will most certainly help.
What are the key body-language strategies?
As will be explored in much more detail in Chapters 2 and 3, there are twelve common strategies that students should pay attention to if they wish to have effective body language during their presentation. We’ve separated these twelve categories into six ‘tips for success’ and six ‘pitfalls to avoid’:
To learn more about these strategies, continue studying with Academic Marker .
Once you’ve completed all three chapters about body language , you might also wish to download our beginner, intermediate and advanced worksheets to test your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks .
Our body language academic reader (including all three chapters about this topic) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
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7 Good Body Language Tips for Better Presentations
July 27, 2019
Better Body Language is a Key Presentation Skill
You can use positive body language to enhance your presentations. body language can be a powerful tool for engaging your audience and delivering a more impactful message. see good body language examples in the videos below., here is a quick guide to good body language and how to use it when presenting:.
Improve your presentation body language – top tips Use your body language to show confidence Use your hands to emphasize points Make eye contact Use your facial expressions to show emotion Use your body movement to add energy Beyond body language: use props effectively Practise good body language and stage presence
1. Use your body language to show confidence
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, and make sure your body is facing the audience. This will help you project confidence and command attention. Avoid crossing your arms, as this can make you seem closed off or defensive.
2. Use your hands to emphasize points
Our clients frequently ask “What should I do with my hands?”.
Hand gestures are best used to emphasise key points. They also add energy to your presentation, particularly when you use them above shoulder-height. Jill Bolte’s TED talk demonstrates this well. Too much movement can be distracting, however. Lots of tiny movements or flapping your arms around makes you look smaller and unconfident. Go for big, bold, purposeful gestures that you hold for a few seconds. These convey presence, leadership and authority.
Good body language means when you aren’t using your hands to emphasise what you’re saying, hold your hands slightly in front of you, with bent elbows. You may find this feels odd at first – but watch Ken Robinson to see how effective it can be. If you are using a lectern, then above-shoulder gestures will be the only ones your audience can see. If you choose to rest your hands on the lectern, keep them hands loose and relaxed. Avoid looking as though you are hanging on for dear life!
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3. Make eye contact
Making eye contact with your audience helps establish a connection and shows that you are confident and engaged. To get good body language try to make eye contact with different people throughout the room, rather than just focusing on one person.
What would you think if I didn’t look you in the eye?
Or if I avoided your gaze? Or if I looked down every time I said something? What impression do you get?
You need good eye contact to be a good presenter..
We like people who can make eye contact (remember the last time you were flirting with someone?). We trust people who can “look you in the eye” . We want to see people “ eye-to-eye “.
When presenting or speaking in public you will get a better reaction if you improve your eye contact. Eye contact is a learned skill that takes practice. From extensive work with our clients, here are some easy tips you can apply for powerful eye contact:
- Only talk when you are looking at someone. No more looking into your notes or staring into the middle distance.
- Spend one or two sentences talking to each person. Get some ‘quality time’ with each person.
- Hold your eye contact until the end of the sentence.
- If you are nervous, if you don’t like looking into someone’s eyes, then look at their forehead or nose.
- Practice improving your eye contact. Start with friends. Make them point out each time your eye contact drops.
Just these simple tips for powerful eye contact will make you a more convincing and persuasive public speaker.
This is such a simple body language trick. Many people underestimated how powerful it is.
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4. Use your facial expressions to show emotion
Your facial expressions can convey a lot of emotion and help engage your audience. Good body language means using facial expressions to show enthusiasm, concern, or surprise, depending on the content of your presentation.
5. Use your body movement to add energy
Adding some movement to your presentation can help keep the audience engaged and add energy to your delivery. Good body language can be as simple as taking a step forward or backward when making a point, or using your hands to gesture.
As with hand gestures, deliberate movements that emphasise your content work well. But too much movement is distracting. Getting the balance right takes practice.
Aim to stand still for the majority of your talk. This will convey confidence and authority. Plan in advance when you will move, combing those movements with breaks in your content. Express a full thought or point in your new position before moving again. Avoid pacing, which makes a speaker look distressed. Make a point, move to another part of the space and make your next point. Aim to emulate a pleasant countryside walk from viewpoint to viewpoint, rather than a nervous wait outside a labour ward!
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6. Beyond positive body language: use props effectively
Props can be a great way to add interest to your presentation and help illustrate your points. However, be sure to use props sparingly, as too many can be distracting.
7. Practise good body language and stage presence
Your stage presence, or the way you move and present yourself on stage, can greatly impact the effectiveness of your presentation. Practise your stage presence by rehearsing in front of a mirror, or by recording yourself and watching the footage. This will help you avoid any negative body language.
By using body language effectively during your presentations, you can engage your audience and deliver a more impactful message. Remember to pay attention to your posture, hand gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, body movement, and stage presence, and practice using these techniques to enhance your presentations.
As soon as we become conscious of our bodies, they get in our way. When we’re faced with an audience, we become like learner drivers, frozen and unnatural. Advice to ‘act naturally’ isn’t useful, as being watched isn’t natural. Besides, communicating to an audience requires different body language than everyday, one-to-one communication.
Your body language matters when presenting.
We’ve all seen powerful speakers, whether in person or on platforms such as TED.com. We use words like ‘charisma’ and ‘presence’ to describe impressive speakers. But some speakers are uncomfortable to watch. Others use such distracting body language that we cannot focus on what they are saying.
Good body language with strong, positive non-verbal communication can be more powerful. Here, we share our top tips for best use of your hands, eye contact and on-stage movement.
These top tips will help you improve your body language when presenting.
- Take control of your body language
- Ignore ‘Just act natural’ advice
- Get feedback and increase your body language self-awareness
- Establish good eye contact
- Use your hands when presenting
- Command the space where you are speaking
- Start with good content in your presentation
Remember, for Effective Body Language, Take control
Non-verbal communication has three uses , according to David Lambert.
replace speech (e.g. a wink)
Reinforce speech (e.g. nodding while saying ‘yes’) a, give clues about our true feelings (e.g. fidgeting when nervous)..
Successful speakers use open, controlled and strong gestures that reinforce their message . Less successful speakers contradict what they say with their non-verbal behaviour.
For instance, if your body language suggests nervousness when you speak, the audience will interpret this as a lack of confidence in your own message. Equally, if you fold your arms while you speak, you create an implied barrier between you and your audience. That’s why successful leaders learn how to control their posture and gestures to avoid negative or distracting body language.
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Better Body Language: Just acting ‘naturally’ doesn’t work
Speaking to large groups of people isn’t a natural situation, so aiming to behave ‘naturally’ is an unhelpful goal. In fact, to transfer energy and enthusiasm to your audience, you need to be ‘more’ than you would normally be in smaller-scale interactions.
For example, to be impressive when presenting you need to be more expressive and more powerful in your command of space.
Positive Body Language: Increase your self awareness
At Benjamin Ball Associates, we film our clients during our coaching sessions. When they watch the footage, they are often surprised to see their body language contradicting their message.
For example, one speaker subtly shook his head in a ‘no’ gesture’ when he was answering ‘yes’ to a question. For a low-tech alternative, try delivering your talk in front of a mirror or recording yourself on a phone. Learning how to watch yourself and improve from self-analysis is key.
A better presentation is the first step to better delivery
If your presentation is weak, even the best body language will leave audiences unmoved. Conversely, the better your presentation, the more confident you’ll feel about delivering it. You’ll find that your body language naturally improves once you feel confident and comfortable about your presentation.
That’s why we focus on getting that right first. In our presentation coaching We:
- Ensure you have a clear message
- Create a subtle structure that gently guides your audience
- Strengthen the language you use, so it is more powerful.
- Refine the start of your talk and end of your presentation until they produce maximum impact.
Then you’ll find polishing your body language much easier.
Start your journey to world-class public speaking skills now
First, download our free ebook to start your journey towards becoming a Powerful Presenter.
You’ll learn our 5-step process for transforming dull, forgettable and un-engaging presentations into your most Powerful Presentations yet: inspirational, memorable and persuasive.
It’s full of practical tips and insightful quotes that will help you make immediate improvements to your leadership talks and presentations, including:
- Increased confidence when you talk and present.
- Improved ability to persuade your audience.
- Greater engagement with your audience.
- Practical ways to plan and structure your talks.
- The inspiration and motivation to change.
Download your free copy of our Five Steps to Transform your Leadership Talks ebook now.
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We can transform your talk and your body language in as little as a few hours.
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Body Language in Public Speaking: How to Master It
Public speaking can be daunting. Even seasoned speakers can sometimes lack confidence and poise in front of a crowd. Your words may be carefully constructed, but what about your body language? Are you making the best use of everything from your head tilt to your hand gestures to create the most impressionable, powerful performance? It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to improving your body language for public speaking. After all, there’s so much to take into account. Which can make you even more anxious! But never fear – in this blog post we’ll show you how to master your body language and make your public speaking more impactful. We’ll cover basics, like posture and facial expressions, to finer details, like microphone technique, to ensure you make the right impression every time. So let’s get started on taking your public speaking to the next level – the only way is up!
Using body language when giving a speech or presentation can help to convey your message more effectively and engage the audience. Make sure to avoid any nervous habits such as fidgeting and maintain good posture. Use hand gestures and facial expressions sparingly and intentionally for maximum effect.
Understanding Body Language
Understanding body language is key for any public speaker to be successful in creating an impact. On one hand, researchers suggest that body language can provide insight into a person’s true feelings, intentions and thoughts.
Whether it be positive reinforcement like a thumbs-up or negative reinforcement like facial expressions of frustration - body language always plays an important role in the understanding of communication.
Additionally, during the speaking portion of a presentation, a speaker’s posture will affect their delivery, giving off strong signals of confidence and power when done correctly. On the other hand, many people have studied nonverbal communication and report mixed findings on its accuracy.
Our own biases as individuals tend to influence our interpretation of what we observe in another’s body language. Context can also play a big role in how we interpret cues - something that someone may consider as confident body language could easily be considered intimidating or aggressive depending on the scenario and the audience it is being given to. Overall, understanding the basics of both verbal and nonverbal communication is essential for any successful public speaker to make an impactful statement. By understanding these essential differences between each form of speaking, a speaker can craft their presentation accurately and congruently in order to achieve their desired outcome. Now that an understanding of body language has been discussed, the following section will discuss "What is Body Language" in further detail.
Must-Know Summary Points
Body language, both positive and negative, plays an important role in communication. Body language can influence how successful a public speaker is, as their posture not only affects delivery but also signals confidence and power.
The interpretation of nonverbal communication, however, can be affected by the individual's biases and context-dependent cues. To make a successful impact through speaking publicly, one must understand both verbal and nonverbal forms of communication.
What is Body Language?
Body language is a form of communication that uses nonverbal cues, such as posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact to convey messages. It is defined as “ the behavior that one displays during communication through body movements, posture, and gestures .”
Body language can be used to express a variety of emotions, including happiness, anger, sadness, confusion, or surprise. It is also an effective way to make a point or emphasize something important when delivering a speech. Body language can be both beneficial and detrimental depending on the context in which it is used. For instance, standing up straight with your arms crossed applied can make you appear more authoritative or confident. On the other hand, this gesture may come off as aggressive and intimidating if the tone of your message isn't aligned with the assertive body language. By being mindful of our body posture and movements before and during a presentation we can ensure that the message we are trying to convey is accurately interpreted by our audience. With a better understanding of how body language affects public speaking, we can use it to our advantage and create meaningful connections that foster trust and respect with our audience. In the next section we will explore how to use body language to make your public speaking more impactful.
The Impact of Body Language
When it comes to public speaking, what we say matters, but the way we say it matters even more. Body language is a universal language and can have an immense impact on how your message is received by an audience. Often times, before you have even said your first word, your body language has already spoken thousands of words to the audience. The lines of your face, curve of your throat, folds in your clothing and the look in your eye all speak volumes about how you are feeling and what kind of attitude you bring to the podium. For example, if a speaker appears tense or closed-off, it may cause some audience members to become defensive or uncomfortable. But if a speaker comes across as open and confident, it helps put the audience at ease and encourages them to respond positively to what they hear. Body language can also have numerous other nonverbal communication benefits during public speaking . For example, well-timed pauses , emphasis on certain points through gestures, and capturing attention with eye contact can all help take an average speech and turn it into something that really resonates with the listener. On the other hand, there’s no denying that people’s perception of body language can be highly subjective. While certain body language cues such as crossed arms may be indicative of being closed off to ideas that don't align with one’s own beliefs for some people, for others crossed arms may simply mean deep concentration.
So its important to keep in mind that how we interpret someone else’s body language largely reflects our own preconceived notions rather than calling out any specific trait of another person. The impact of body language when giving a public presentation should not be underestimated - it can turn a mediocre performance into something extraordinary by creating a connection with listeners and keeping them engaged throughout. Now let's take a closer look at how you can use body language effectively during public speaking to maximize this impact.
Body Language During Public Speaking
Body language during public speaking can have a huge influence on the delivery of your speech, as well as your overall success. The way you move and use your body to convey your message is one of the most important elements of delivering an effective presentation . Your body language can reveal how confident or hesitant you are about the material you’re conveying and how engaged or disinterested your audience is. When speaking in front of people, maintaining an open body language can demonstrate your confidence and help put them at ease. Some people tend to cross their arms when they become nervous , which can come off as confrontational or even hostile.
Your posture should be relaxed but upright—avoid slouching or hunching over, as this comes off as unprofessional and may signal a lack of confidence in yourself and your message. On the other hand, standing too straight and rigid can also be intimidating. Standing with your feet slightly apart in an open stance conveys openness and comfort with yourself and your message. Your facial expressions should also match what you’re saying—a grimace when telling a funny story, for example, is confusing for the audience. It’s important to stay aware of flinching or winking too much, which can make it seem like you’re not paying attention to what you’re saying or are uncomfortable with the content. Make sure to look out for any unintentional visual cues that might distract or confuse your audience. Keeping good posture and making sure your movements coincide with the flow of your speech will enable you to project confidence and enthusiasm that will keep your audience engaged throughout the duration of your presentation.
Your facial expressions play an equally vital role in helping you get your point across efficiently so it’s important to become aware of them while speaking. With greater awareness and practice, mastering nonverbal communication during public speaking will become easier and more natural. Next we will discuss how facial expressions and posture play key roles in how impactful a speaker is during public presentations.
Facial Expressions and Posture
The way we use facial expressions and posture when speaking publicly has a huge influence on how people perceive us. Our eyes, forehead, mouth, and chin all send organic cues to others about our feelings and thoughts.
It’s important to pay attention to the signals our faces are sending, making sure they are intentional rather than merely fleeting. Additionally, our posture speaks volumes when it comes to communicating with an audience. One of the most important gestures that can help you connect with your audience is smiling. A charming smile can boost credibility, increase positive reactions, and help keep the atmosphere light-hearted.
On the other hand, the opposite can also be true: frowning and furrowing your eyebrows may distract or upset a room of listeners. So practice your presentation with a big smile and choose wisely when changing expressions during your speech. In addition to facial expression, posture is essential in public speaking. Standing up straight and tall projects strength and authority while slouching signals weakness and uncertainty. By standing up with proper posture while speaking publicly you give off an impression of capability and confidence, which will make people better listen to what you have to say.
For example, when talking to an audience try planting your feet hip-width apart; this will ground yourself in your message. Slumping or swaying back-and-forth sends a negative message about self-belief that your audience can sense subconsciously; so pay attention to subtle adjustments that express dedication and seriousness for your speech topic . Overall, facial expressions and posture play an integral role in public speaking as they set up tangible associations with the message one is trying to communicate as a speaker or presenter. Next up in this article we will discuss practical tips for utilizing body language during public speaking.
Tips for Using Body Language in Public Speaking
When preparing to give a public speech , body language plays an essential role in connecting with and impressing your audience. It can be used to emphasize key points and create the kind of lasting impression you want to make. Here are some tips for using body language effectively: 1. Stand Confidently – A confident posture expresses power, passion, and conviction. Keep your hands at your sides instead of crossed over your chest as this has been shown to make people appear more defensive and tense. Make sure your body weight is well-distributed by standing with both feet firmly planted on the ground. 2. Don’t Fidget – People tend to fidget when nervous and this can be distracting or even annoying to an audience. To combat this, practice presenting in front of a mirror so that you can become familiar with how you move and where you may need to adjust. 3. Use Intentional Gestures – If done properly, gestures can help add energy and excitement to an otherwise dull presentation. Avoid robotic gestures that don’t mean anything; practice deliberate gestures that connect with the topic or point you are making in meaningful ways for maximum impact. 4. Make Eye Contact – People love it when presenters look them directly in the eye because it makes them feel included in the action, connected to their speakers, and more likely to remember what was spoken about. Aim for 3-5 seconds of direct eye contact with each person who is listening so that you communicate strong, vibrant energy throughout the room. By taking advantage of these speaking techniques and using meaningful gestures, powerful stances, and confident looks, you will have presented a far more impactful speech than had any of these body language methods been overlooked or neglected. Now, let's talk about common mistakes to avoid when delivering public speeches...
- Research studies show that a speaker's body language accounts for up to 93% of their communication when presenting (although this may not be true).
- Effective body language can help to create rapport between the presenter and the audience, leading to more effective communication
- Studies have shown that positive body language, such as open and inviting gestures, can help increase audience engagement and understanding of the message.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Public speaking is a challenging endeavor, and even seasoned presenters can make mistakes. It can be easy to forget about the need for attentive body language if you get too caught up in your presentation. To mitigate the possibility of ‘faux pas’, it is important to understand some common blunders that can lessen the impact of your performance. It is vital to avoid maintaining an unfavorable facial expression; for instance, scowling or yawning. Such expressions tend to leave negative impressions, making it difficult to maintain attention. Instead, try to adopt a relaxed and pleasant facial expression which will help put people at ease and keep them engaged.
Your posture is another essential aspect of body language. Don’t slouch or hunch your shoulders as this position communicates a lack of confidence or enthusiasm and disengages the audience. Aim to stand with even proportions; your feet shoulder-width apart with your chest held up and arms loose by your side. This establishes a stance that suggests dynamism, engagement, and assurance - words you want associated with yourself and your speech. On the other hand, it is also important not to contort yourself into an over-assertive pose that may distract from the content of your address. Many speakers adopt hyperextended poses such as spreading their arms wide and pacing back-and-forth across the stage setting their audience on edge rather than inspiring them with confidence in the speaker’s message. In conclusion, practice mindful body language when speaking publicly: maintain a friendly expression, appropriate posture, and avoid gestures that detract from what matters most -your presentation content! Building self-confidence to ensure successful public speaking requires both clever content delivery and skillful manipulation of body language – something we will explore further in the following section on building self-confidence while speaking publicly.
Building Your Self-Confidence
Confidence is the cornerstone of public speaking. It is essential for conveying effective messages and connecting with your audience. Building up your self-confidence before a speech or presentation will ensure that you are ready to deliver an impactful performance. Here are some strategic tips for increasing your self-confidence when you take the stage: 1. Practice, practice, practice – Before delivering a speech, engaging in multiple rehearsals helps individuals become more familiar and comfortable with their material. Rehearsing enables speakers to focus on specific points of their speech and practice the flow and delivery of their words with precision.
Additionally, rehearsing also provides an opportunity to perfect and enhance content that can potentially elevate the level of enthusiasm within your audience. 2. Boost your posture – Holding yourself in a “power pose” can be an effective way to channel confidence both onstage and offstage. Highlighting important moments with dramatic gesture indicates a grounded, passionate presence that leaves a lasting impression on viewers.
When people feel as if they can trust and respect who is communicating a message, it increases engagement and creates opportunities to further dialogue or discussion afterwards. 3. Set attainable goals – Curating manageable objectives for yourself is another great way to build self-confidence before going on stage. This includes building out an agenda (also known as ‘ speaker notes ’) that lays out talking points and bullets important sections of your presentation beforehand so that you can confidently navigate transitions between slides or topics during delivery.
Setting clear expectations beforehand not only reminds the speaker what topics are of importance, but it also offers direction so speaking becomes easier when conducting research or writing scripts ahead of time.
4. Visualize success – Visualization is another form of preparation that can have significant effects on one’s self-confidence levels prior to taking the stage. It involves creating vivid mental images related to successful performance while simultaneously reminding oneself that they have successfully conquered other speaking engagements prior preceding this one; this essentially helps make it easier transitioning from anxiousness into preparedness pre-speech day nerves. Confidence can be seen as both an intrinsic quality associated with personality traits such as charisma, charm, poise and eloquence, as well as something environmental or situational like body language, external feedback or attitude surrounding a particular event or task at hand that contributes to overall comfortability levels onstage (or offstage).
Consequently it can be argued that one needs both external factors working in tandem with personality attributes to establish robust personal confidence capable of maximizing success onstage as a public speaker; however where people depict various levels of comfortability with how each contributes towards self-efficacy depends largely upon individual beliefs about their own character and abilities involving communication(s).
Ultimately, developing strategies for harnessing confidence for public speaking requires individuals to assess what works best for them based upon what makes them feel most prepared & competent when under pressure - that’s why it’s important to review all available options prior developing tactical plans designed to elevate public speaking performances; good luck!
Most Common Questions
How does body language emphasize content when public speaking.
Body language is an important factor when it comes to emphasizing content when public speaking. This is because people tend to take in nonverbal cues more than verbal cues. S
tudies have shown that 93% of communication is nonverbal, which means that what you do with your body language can be just as influential as the words you use.
When delivering a presentation or speech, gestures and movements can be used to emphasize key points, draw attention to certain ideas, and add depth and meaning to the content.
For example, making large hand gestures when discussing a significant idea helps communicate a powerful message, while pointing at relevant diagrams or visuals helps guide the audience’s attention toward important information.
Additionally, maintaining strong and confident posture while speaking also sends a signal of authority and helps engage listeners. Ultimately, by deliberately incorporating body language into presentations or speeches, presenters can effectively emphasize the content being presented and increase its impact on audiences.
What are some common mistakes to avoid with body language in public speaking?
One of the most common mistakes to avoid with body language in public speaking is not maintaining good posture. Keeping your head up and shoulders back shows confidence. Avoid slouching, which can make you appear uncomfortable or insecure.
Additionally, avoid excessive movements such as fidgeting, gesturing too much or rocking back and forth. These habits can be distracting to your audience and detract from the message that you are trying to get across. Another mistake to avoid is using negative gestures and facial expressions. Too many negative expressions like frowns or eyerolls can provide a conflicting message to your audience, weakening the impact of your words.
As a speaker, it’s important to project confidence, so negative body language can be counter-productive. Smiling or looking positive while speaking will give off a confident air and help keep the atmosphere positive and engaging. Finally, be aware of how much space you are taking up and remain conscious of what your body is saying. Invading too much personal space makes people in the audience feel uncomfortable.
Be sure to match people’s body language cues so that it doesn’t come off as aggressive or intimidating. By paying attention to these small nuances, you will be able to properly control your body language in public speaking and make a bigger impression on your audience!
What are the most important tips for using body language in public speaking?
The most important tips for using body language in public speaking are: 1. Establish good eye contact - to your audience, look around the room and make sure to engage people with eye contact at different points while you speak. 2. Use open body language - avoid postures that suggest discomfort or lack of confidence such as crossed arms, fidgeting, and avoiding direct eye contact. Instead, strive to use body language that suggests openness and comfort. 3. Use gestures to emphasize points - gestures can help engage your audience, amplify the message you're trying to get across, and give energy to your presentation. Practice beforehand what gestures will help accentuate each point in your presentation and use them appropriately when speaking. 4. Use facial expressions - don't just stand still like a statue! Make sure to smile, frown, use surprise and other subtle expressions as appropriate to convey emotion with your words and make your story come alive for the audience. 5. Vary Your Speech Pace & Volume - vary the speed of your delivery based on the content of your speech and don't forget about pushing up or down on the volume of your voice for multi-syllable words or when emphasizing a point – movement of your hands can be helpful too! Using these tips during public speaking can help make it more impactful and have better results in conveying your message across effectively to any audience.
Improve Your Presentation With Body Language
Why Body Language Is So Important In A Presentation
Expert speakers know how to use body language to their advantage. They’re fully aware of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. They do this to make sure that their audience is paying attention and understanding them better.
There are some really simple tricks and tips to make sure you use the correct body language when presenting. The first is never let your hands drop below your waistline; you should always keep your hands above waist height in order to project your thoughts through your non-verbal’s.
When a person speaks or moves in a certain way, they emit information about their thoughts and feelings – either consciously or without realizing it. We will cover the dos and don’ts later in the post.
What Is the Importance of Body Language in Effective Presentations
The most powerful tips you can use quickly in any presentation, correct eye contact, eyebrow flash, keep your hand above your waist line and palms out, dress to impress, learn from other presenters.
Many people think that body language is just what you project from your physical body, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s how you communicate with others without words or a ton of gestures.
We communicate about 60% of what we are saying through body language, so if we are not congruent with what we are saying, this can send mixed signals to your audience.
Body language can convey a message to others about what you’re going through and how you’re feeling without any words being said at all.
There are ways to project confidence or positivity when you do your presentation with your non-verbal’s
Public speaking is something that many people dread, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many things you can do to make your presentation more memorable, persuasive, and powerful.
It is important for you to know that the audience takes notice of everything that happens on stage. This may include how well you speak, what you wear, and how confident you are in what you say.
The following are 10 powerful tips for public speaking.
Walking on to the stage or getting up in front of an audience.
Believe it or not, your audience will have already decided whether or not they like you within a fraction of a second. Most people will make that decision within a few seconds when they first see you and you walk onto the stage. That’s why it’s important to dress to impress; everyone knows that the sayings “know, like and true” are true.
Well, the way you dress is super important as a first impression.
You need to walk onto the stage with open body language, hands out, palms open. You are being judged on whether you are good for them or if you should be moved away because they are going to put us in danger.
The Five Minimum Requirements in Order to Win the Crowd
The question people will ask themselves subconsciously is this person going to be a friend? Do they look like someone I already know? If that is the case you are now gathering data, that fits your assumption about how they are like someone you already know.
- Eye contact
- Open hands above the waste with palms out
- Dress accordingly
If you don’t tick the four boxes above, you could be seen as either an energy-efficient person or someone we don’t like. That could turn the audience off or even worse against you initially.
When you walk on stage, try to make eye contact with as many people as possible. Eye contact is one of the most powerful things we have in our arsenal when we use body language. You don’t want to stare at people for too long. For each person, you should spend about two seconds, and then move on to the next person. You also want to count this pattern as you deliver your presentation, constantly looking at your audience will help you deliver your message.
There is a way to read the room through a blink rate. You can tell if your audience are loving what you are saying or becoming bored simply by observing their blink rate. To find out the quick calculation check out how to notice blink rate in an audience and crush it here.
There are two types of smiles: a fake one and a real one called a Duchenne smile. This is a smile that uses your eyes and makes the corners of your eyes wrinkle sometimes known as crow’s feet. We like to call it a true, genuine smile of happiness.
It has been proven that the more you smile, the better you will feel. When you smile, your brain releases neuropeptides that help you relieve stress and calm you down in that moment.
Most people will reflect this back to you through their nonverbal cues, and that’s what you want when delivering a presentation, people on your side.
The eyebrow flash is a nonverbal signal that tells others you recognize them subconsciously. Try this with the next person you see: raise your eyebrows without speaking to them nine times out of ten, they will flash theirs back to say, “We saw you and we’re okay with that.”
This one is not to be underestimated. Most body language is simple as it has been bred into use, but interlingually understanding something is a totally different matter altogether.
Often you need to gain trust quickly and one of the quickest ways is with your hands open or palms showing above the waistline. The universal gesture is called the truth plane, it’s where you gesture from the navel area with palms open. This shows you have no weapons or tools that could hurt them. Yes, it’s basic, but it’s how evolution has structured us to stay safe so we may as well use it.
Have you ever been in a public place and a homeless person walked past or tried to engage with you? Your first instinct is to move away from them or get them away from you as quickly as possible. That’s because they probably smell and are wearing old, dirty clothes.
Now, if you’re reading this, chances are it won’t be you. But I want you to consider what you’re wearing as you will be judged on your appearance.
If you’re delivering a formal presentation, business attire is in order, and maybe a fresh haircut. Being well grooms sends a signal to others you look after yourself so you can look after this project or message you are tiring to deliver.
Stand with your feet about shoulder with apart, stand like a normal person then you wanna put just a tiny bit of weight on the front of your foot.
Stand up straight, put your head straight forward and expose just a little of your neck so you feel more comfortable. Make sure you’re not too exposed or it’s going to look awkward.
If you start to feel tense, squeeze your toes to release any excess energy.
One of the most powerful Ted Talks we have ever seen on body language and presentation is Mark Bowden’s TedX Toronto Talks below. Watching this will give you an idea of how to present. He is using embedded commands and all the tips mentioned above.
Choose your behavior around people. Most of the people you see will be indifferent to you, you were designed this way. You will also notice people who are like you and you feel comfortable with automatically. You need to be aware of your body language and tone of voice in order to deliver a successful message. This will help with establishing rapport and create a feeling of friendship. If you can do this successfully, you will have more credibility as a speaker and be able to better deliver your points and understand why body language is so important in a presentation.
Body Language Matters
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Mastering Power of Body Language in Public Speaking
Body language is key in public speaking. Posture, gestures, and movements can show confidence and engage an audience. This article explores the power of nonverbal communication and how to use it.
When we take the stage, our body language sets the tone. A strong stance and open posture show confidence. Eye contact, hand gestures, and purposeful movements help build rapport with the audience.
Nonverbal cues can also emphasize key points. A pause and lean forward can underscore an idea. Changing speed and rhythm with facial expressions can add emotion to speech.
It’s not just what we say, but how we say it. Enthusiasm, passion, or conviction can be shown even without words. By combining verbal and nonverbal elements, we can leave a lasting impression.
Pro Tip: Mirror the audience’s body language to build trust and create familiarity. This subtle technique connects us to the listeners on a deeper level.
The importance of body language in public speaking
Public speaking is an art. It goes beyond verbal communication. Body language in public speaking is very important. Facial expressions, hand gestures, and posture are all key. They convey confidence, enthusiasm, and authenticity. This makes the audience more engaged.
Body language can help speakers establish credibility and make a deeper connection. Good posture shows confidence. Avoid fidgeting and crossing arms . Eye contact is essential for building trust. Make eye contact with each individual listener . This keeps the audience focused.
Hand gestures can also be used. Purposeful movements emphasize points. This helps to express emotions that words cannot. Facial expressions offer another way to communicate. Smiling creates warmth. Frowning or looking bored can be off-putting.
To use body language well, practice good posture . Rehearse hand gestures. Use visual aids like props or slides. This reinforces the message. Visual cues keep the audience’s attention .
To master body language, practice and be aware. Understand how nonverbal cues work. Use verbal and nonverbal skills to connect with listeners. Communicate in a compelling way that resonates emotionally and intellectually.
Also Read: Find Your Passion: A Path to Self-Discovery and Fulfillment
Key elements of body language in public speaking
Body language plays a huge part in powerful public speaking . Let’s investigate the fundamental elements of body language that contribute to successful speeches!
- Gestures : Movements can make or break a message. Natural and purposeful gestures keep people engaged and help them understand.
- Facial expressions : The face is an amazing tool for communication. Expressing emotions on the face helps create a bond, and builds trust with the audience.
- Posture and stance : How you hold yourself on stage affects how people see you. Good posture and confidence build authority and trust.
Also, making eye contact with the crowd builds a connection and grabs their attention. Varying your voice adds flavor to your speech, keeping people interested. Lastly, props and visuals can boost nonverbal communication, by strengthening key points.
Pro Tip: Copy the body language of influential speakers to master your own stage presence!
Also Read: Techniques for Innovative Thinking: Boost Creative Thinking
The role of nonverbal cues in conveying confidence and credibility
Nonverbal cues are crucial for public speaking. These cues, like body language, facial expressions and gestures , influence the audience’s opinion of the speaker. Good posture and eye contact show confidence and trust. Hand gestures make the message more engaging. Dressing professionally reflects respect and creates a good impression. Speaking with the right tone and volume adds depth to the message. These unique details set the speaker apart from others.
Strategies for improving body language in public speaking
It’s vital to develop body language when public speaking. Here are some tips to better your nonverbal communication:
- Posture : Stand tall, shoulders relaxed and show an open stance to look confident.
- Gestures : Use hand movements to emphasize points, but don’t go overboard.
- Eye contact : Keep eye contact with your audience to make them feel involved.
- Facial expressions : Show enthusiasm, empathy or seriousness through facial expressions.
Moreover, put focus on small details like nodding or mirroring the energy of your listeners. This creates a connection.
Many famous public speakers have used body language well. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s commanding gestures during his renowned “I Have a Dream” speech, caught the attention of millions. His use of nonverbal cues enhanced his message.
To conclude, it’s important to understand body language in public speaking. With practice and knowledge, you can engage your audience and deliver an effective speech.
Also Read: Impact of Physical Fitness: Boost Self-Improvement
Case studies and examples of effective body language in public speaking
Studies have shown that open, confident body language such as good posture and eye contact can make one appear more persuasive. A well-known speaker used hand gestures and facial expressions to draw in their audience. Dynamic body movements can help maintain an audience’s attention and emphasize key points.
Subtle details like proper posture and facial expressions can help create credibility, build rapport, show sincerity, and reinforce the message . For instance, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 . His confidence, gestures, and passionate tone conveyed a deep commitment to equality and justice.
Overcoming challenges and common mistakes in nonverbal communication
Maintaining eye contact is a common challenge for speakers . They may feel nervous or find it hard to connect with their audience. To master this, practice eye contact and focus on individual members of the crowd.
Poor posture and body language is another mistake. Slouching or fidgeting can reduce credibility and lessen the effect of the message. To fix this, practice proper posture, stand tall, and use gestures to highlight key points.
To combat nervousness, use techniques like deep breathing or visualization. Nervous behaviors such as pacing or avoiding movement completely can stop a speaker from communicating effectively.
Cultures have different interpretations of body language. To prevent misunderstandings, research cultural norms or ask cultural experts.
To improve nonverbal communication:
- Practice in front of a mirror or record yourself for areas needing improvement.
- Seek feedback from trusted people for constructive criticism and tips on body language and delivery.
- Join public speaking clubs or workshops to learn from experienced speakers and get advice on nonverbal communication.
These suggestions work because practice helps individuals become more relaxed and confident. Feedback offers useful information and allows for necessary changes. Interacting with public speaking communities provides chances for growth and gaining from others’ experiences. By working on nonverbal communication skills, people can become better public speakers and make an impact.
Also Read: Top 100 Commonly Used A to Z Phrasal Verbs for English Fluency
Nonverbal communication is a powerful tool in public speaking. It allows speakers to convey messages and connect with their audience deeply. Body language can show confidence and credibility. It can also engage listeners.
We have explored various aspects of nonverbal communication in public speaking. Gestures, facial expressions, and posture can express emotions and enhance the message delivery. By understanding and using these cues, speakers can build rapport and create an impact.
Eye contact is also important. It communicates sincerity and builds trust. It creates a connection between the speaker and listeners, which encourages active participation.
Vocal tone and pace can also be used effectively. By modulating the voice, speakers can emphasize points and keep the audience interested. A well-paced speech helps listeners absorb information and stay engaged. Know More – The Fluent Life
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does body language affect public speaking? A. Body language plays a crucial role in public speaking as it can significantly influence how your message is received by the audience. Positive body language, such as maintaining eye contact, using open gestures, and standing tall, can enhance your credibility and make you appear more confident. On the other hand, negative body language, like slouching, crossing your arms, or avoiding eye contact, can create barriers between you and the audience, detracting from your message.
2. What are some effective body language techniques for public speaking? A. There are several body language techniques you can employ to improve your public speaking skills. These include:
- Maintaining good posture and standing tall
- Using appropriate hand gestures to emphasize key points
- Making eye contact with the audience to establish connection and engagement
- Smiling and displaying genuine enthusiasm for your topic
- Using mirroring techniques to establish rapport with your audience
- Moving purposefully and confidently across the stage
3. How can I use facial expressions effectively in public speaking? A. Facial expressions are a powerful tool for conveying emotions and engaging the audience. To use facial expressions effectively in public speaking, make sure to:
- Smile genuinely to appear friendly and approachable
- Match your facial expressions with the tone and content of your speech
- Use your eyebrows, eyes, and mouth to express emotions or emphasize certain points
- Avoid excessive or unnatural facial movements that may distract the audience
4. What are some common body language mistakes to avoid during a speech? A. To deliver a compelling speech, it’s important to be aware of and avoid common body language mistakes. These include:
- Slouching or standing with poor posture
- Fidgeting with your hands or other objects
- Using closed-off gestures like crossed arms or hands in pockets
- Overusing hand gestures, which can become distracting
- Shifting weight excessively or pacing back and forth
5. Can body language help in conveying confidence during public speaking? A. Definitely! Body language is one of the key factors that contribute to conveying confidence during public speaking. By adopting confident body language techniques such as maintaining steady eye contact, using open gestures, and standing tall, you can project an image of confidence and authority. Additionally, being mindful of your posture, smiling, and speaking with a clear and steady voice also contribute to appearing confident in front of an audience.
6. How can I improve my body language in public speaking? A. Improving your body language in public speaking can be achieved through practice and awareness. Consider the following steps:
- Record yourself while practicing a speech and analyze your body language
- Take note of any negative body language habits you may have and consciously work on eliminating them
- Observe and learn from skilled public speakers who have excellent body language
- Attend public speaking workshops or classes that focus on nonverbal communication
- Seek feedback from trusted friends, family, or mentors on your body language and continuously strive for improvement.
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5 body language tips to improve your presentations
"What does body language have to do with a PowerPoint presentation?" you ask. Well, more than you think. In the same way it's always worth putting some thought into the placement of our text and images or the way we design a slide, it's also worth thinking about the placement of other things "outside of the presentation" like our hands and eyes, as well as the way we present ourselves (no pun intended).
The thing is, you're using body language whether you realise it or not. There's no vacuum here, so you may as well be intentional about it. Being aware of and leveraging the way you come across when presenting can be a great way to add that extra layer of clarity, conviction or persuasion we need to win that pitch, secure that raise or get the team on board for the next project.
Your body language can either help you engage your audience and be confident and relaxed during your presentation, or make you look dull and uninterested thanks to slouching, lack of eye contact or nervous pacing back and forth. So, while we normally focus on helping you design your slides, in this post, we're giving you five pointers to help you look as good as your deck!
If you're nervous, your body will often instinctively try to avoid eye contact. If you're overly confident, you might stare for too long, making the other person nervous. The goal here is to find that sweet spot and look for long enough to appear confident without coming across as creepy.
Here are a few tips for healthy eye contact:
- Aim to move around and look at everyone in the room at least once
- Try about 2 seconds – less looks nervous, longer feels awkward
- If you're too nervous to lock in, try looking just above people's eyes
- Don't look down at your notes the whole time if you're aiming to connect
2. Use hand gestures ... the right ones, that is
According to a study by Vanessa Van Edwards , lead investigator for Science of People, hand gestures are among the five essential ingredients that make up a successful TED talk. I ntentional, well-timed hand gestures can show your audience that you care about the topic and that you're a knowledgable and effective communicator. On the flipside, unintentional hand gestures can easily cause distraction and make you look nervous or unprofessional and even annoying.
Here are a few common ones to avoid:
- Fiddling with a watch, wedding band or microphone
- Playing with keys, pens, coins or stuff in your pocket
- Stroking your hair, beard, mustache (or eyebrows!)
- Repeatedly adjusting items of clothing
- Pointing at people
And a few to try:
- Pausing to point an important element or message on your slide
- Using welcoming, positive gestures to engage with the audience
- Using a gesture to invite the audience to answer a question
- Counting key points on your fingers for emphasis
- Clapping to celebrate or acknowledge an achievement
3. Consider your clothes
A lot can be said about people's choice of clothing, and there are obviously plenty of landmines to be mindful of here, including everything from company dress code to individual taste. We won't go too deep here, and also try to leave some room for personal preferences, but here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Are your clothes enhancing your message or distracting people?
A t-shirt with an eye-catching design or some provocative wording might be perfect for a night on the town, but if it's not supporting your message, it may be distracting and detracting from it. If in doubt, go neutral. Plainer clothes are often a good choice, or at least items of clothing that don't carry conflicting messaging.
How will your audience be dressed?
If they're in suits, you might not want to rock up in swimwear, unless of course you're doing a talk on water safety, in which case it might be an appropriate way to grab, and hold, people's attention. Many suggest dressing slightly better than your audience, helping establish some level of professionalism while also hanging on to some relatability.
Are your clothes clean, ironed and in decent condition?
We're not suggesting you invest in a new wardrobe every time you need to get the team together for a 5-minute stand-up meeting at the office, but it's worth checking your clothes are neat and tidy enough not to distract people while you're talking. There's nothing worse than staring at a guy with big square-shaped creases on his recently purchased shirt because he didn't allow time to iron it before taking the stage.
4. Remember your posture
Body language matters. As mentioned in one of the earlier tips, a poor posture such as slouching will give your audience the impression that you’re not confident nor interested in your topic or yourself. If you're tense, they'll sense your nervousness. Remind yourself to relax throughout your presentation and to straighten up if you start to slouch. Not only will this give you the chance to improve your posture, but it'll also allow your audience to take in the points you’ve just covered.
Within your own personal style, try to be comfortably confident.
So here are two dos and two don'ts when it comes to posture during a presentation:
- Don't slouch – Your posture should be upright and open. This'll make you look and feel more confident, inviting the audience in rather than pushing them away.
- Try not to be tense – It’s important to look and feel relaxed during a presentation. Appearing too rigid won’t make a good impression. No matter how nervous you may feel, a speaker who seems to be afraid of his or her audience will not win their trust. Remind yourself to relax at different points throughout the presentation. Use your pauses to consciously to relax and reset your expression and posture.
- Think about your audience – A formal presentation to the board of a company is quite different from an interactive talk with a junior coworker. While you still need to be upright, open, and relaxed in all situations, remember that different settings require different levels of formality. Adapt your posture and the delivery of your message to be more open or more formal accordingly.
Read more: 10 dos and don'ts of impactful presentations
5. Don't forget to breathe
Whether you're nervous, excited or insecure about delivering a presentation to an audience, it's surprisingly common to either freeze or to speak faster than normal, leading you to experience a shortness of breath. Regardless of how you feel about presenting, it's important to remember to breathe normally. It's a great way to center yourself, find some calm and take control of the situation. Breathing at a healthy pace will also give you the chance to gather your thoughts in between points, and most importantly, give your audience the opportunity to take in what you've just said.
Much like eye contact, pausing to breathe needs to be timed well. Too short and you seem flustered, too long and it gets awkward. Try delivering a sentence or two and then pausing to breathe. Soon, you'll find a rhythm and cadence that enables both you and your audience to settle in for the ride so they remain focused and curious, and you stay calm and in complete control.
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The 5 Key Body Language Techniques of Public Speaking
How's your body language? It's part of what makes your speeches and presentations come to life! Discover the 5 key body language techniques of public speaking.
Of all the communication skills available to you as a public speaker, how important is body language?
The answer: as important as any single element of your speeches or presentations!
Do you know that audiences judge you based on what you show them? Boost your stage presence! Download my free guide , "The Body Language Rules: 12 Ways to Be a More Powerful Public Speaker."
The 5 Key Body Language Tips for Public Speaking
Consider that the most important visual you can show an audience is yourself . Add the fact that your voice is produced physically. The result? The way you look and sound are hugely important concerning whether you're successful as a speaker. And that includes your audience's physical responses to you, even though they're largely subconscious.
At The Genard Method, body language has always been a key element of our executive speech coaching and team presentation skills training . Below are 5 key areas in which your physical expressiveness can take your own talks from mundane to memorable. Learn them if you want to practice powerful body language techniques for your own public speaking.
1. Effective Movement and Gestures for Public Speaking
When it comes to using body language, you should be asking yourself: "How can I use movement and gestures to be effective in my presentation?" Here's an easy formula to remember. It's one that will help you avoid give audiences the NODS: Just think N eutral, O pen, D efined, and S trong. (And here's how to use natural, strong gestures .)
You should begin in a neutral position with hands at your sides. That may feel awkward at first, but it looks fine to people watching. It's what helps keep you open to your audience, so that influence flows freely in both directions. Gesture sparingly, using defined or "clean" hand movements. That will help make them strong. Follow the NODS formula, and your upper body movement will always support and amplify what you say.
Learn proven techniques that can make you a more dynamic and engaging speaker in my e-book Body Language to Look and Feel Confident .
2. Use Space Like an Actor, and You'll Control the Room
When you speak in public, a certain amount of space on the stage is yours by right. You should claim it! Leaders know how to project power by the way they stand and move; and of course, when you speak in public, you are a leader. Learn how to occupy space in a way that proclaims you are comfortable in the spotlight. Nothing demonstrates speaking for leadership like a presenter who is at ease in his or her own skin in front of an audience.
Let's face it: you showcase yourself to the world every day of your life. Show listeners they can have confidence in what you're saying by commanding the space around you. Don't overdo it, but don't minimize the area through which you move. Need a reminder of a speaker who knew how to move as a leader? Here's my piece on Bill Clinton's compelling body language .
3. How to Use Technology in Presentations
There's a saying in the theater that good actors use props, and bad actors are used by their props. This isn't just a witticism. Inexperienced performers are flummoxed by a 'property'—a cigarette holder, a wine glass, even a sword or a gun. Solid professionals, on the other hand, understand that the prop exists to help them define their character for the audience. So they use it in a way only that character would.
When you deal with objects as a speaker, whether it's a remote clicker or a handout or the screen itself, find a way to help that object give what you're saying impact . The tool is there to help you get your message across. Just remember it's only a tool, and you're the influencer in the room. Here's more on how to energize your PowerPoint presentations .
4. Facial Expressions Are an Important Part of Body Language
We might call this one the "forgotten relative" in the body language family. Yet the human face is vital to communication, from recognizing another person to understanding the subtle clues that underlie motive. Audience members depend upon your facial expressions to augment meaning. So you should definitely be using your face to discover how to be a more expressive speaker.
If you don't have an expressive face, work with a mirror. It will help you create a link between what you're trying to express, and whether you look like you mean it. Practice giving your entire talk without a sound coming out of your mouth, even though you're forming the words. Try letting your face do all the communicating. Then practice speaking normally —you'll almost certainly look the part better.
5. Voice Improvement for Business Presentations Is Vital
As I mentioned above, your voice is produced physically. So it's obviously a component of effective body language. In fact, aside from your brain, your voice is the most flexible communication instrument you own.
So you should learn how to use your voice to influence others! I don't mean that only in terms of voice and speech improvement for more pleasant and powerful speaking. I'm also referring to the many ways vocal expressiveness helps you indicate meaning and intention.
Listen to speakers good and bad, then listen some more. Take a voice and diction course. Or work with a speech coach, preferably one who trained as an actor. A motto I've used for years in my own speech coaching is "Find Your True Voice." Literally and figuratively, it can make a radical difference in whether your real message is heard.
Body Language and Power Poses
Finally, one study offers the possibility that you can consciously strengthen your power as a speaker through a specific body language technique. It has to do with social psychologist Amy Cuddy's research into "power poses." Cuddy discussed her findings in her TED talk, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” (which happens to be the second most-viewed TED talk ever).
According to Cuddy's research, assuming a powerful pose before participating in a high-stress situation demanding peak performance increases one's level of testosterone (the dominance hormone), and decreases cortisol (a stress hormone). In other words, assume a power pose and you’ll feel more able to control the situation and experience less stress. I wrote about this in my blog on using power poses to achieve amazing presence .
More recent research has revealed problems in replicating Cuddy's findings. On the other hand, I see no harm in assuming powerful poses to help boost your confidence. After all, learning confidence may seem like a mind game, but literally feeling strong can be a great help. So add this approach, if you like, to the five key body language techniques I discuss above. Arm yourself for your important talks with powerful and productive body language. You'll literally stand out from the crowd, in all the right ways.
This blog was originally published in 2012. It is updated here.
You should follow me on Twitter here .
Tags: public speaking training , body language , public speaking , gestures , communication skills , voice improvement , speech improvement , leadership , body language and public speaking , natural body language , effective body language , leadership training , keynote speaker training , keynote speech training , motivational speaker training
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Understanding Body Language and Facial Expressions
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Body language refers to the nonverbal signals that we use to communicate. These nonverbal signals make up a huge part of daily communication. In fact, body language may account for between 60% to 65% of all communication.
Examples of body language include facial expressions, eye gaze, gestures, posture, and body movements. In many cases, the things we don't say can convey volumes of information.
So, why is body language important? Body language can help us understand others and ourselves. It provides us with information about how people may be feeling in a given situation. We can also use body language to express emotions or intentions.
Facial expressions, gestures, and eye gaze are often identified as the three major types of body language, but other aspects such as posture and personal distance can also be used to convey information. Understanding body language is important, but it is also essential to pay attention to other cues such as context. In many cases, you should look at signals as a group rather than focus on a single action.
This article discusses the roles played by body language in communication, as well as body language examples and the meaning behind them—so you know what to look for when you're trying to interpret nonverbal actions.
Click Play to Learn How To Read Body Language
This video has been medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD .
Think for a moment about how much a person is able to convey with just a facial expression. A smile can indicate approval or happiness . A frown can signal disapproval or unhappiness.
In some cases, our facial expressions may reveal our true feelings about a particular situation. While you say that you are feeling fine, the look on your face may tell people otherwise.
Just a few examples of emotions that can be expressed via facial expressions include:
The expression on a person's face can even help determine if we trust or believe what the individual is saying.
There are many interesting findings about body language in psychology research. One study found that the most trustworthy facial expression involved a slight raise of the eyebrows and a slight smile. This expression, the researchers suggested, conveys both friendliness and confidence .
Facial expressions are also among the most universal forms of body language. The expressions used to convey fear, anger, sadness, and happiness are similar throughout the world.
Researcher Paul Ekman has found support for the universality of a variety of facial expressions tied to particular emotions including joy, anger, fear, surprise, and sadness.
Research even suggests that we make judgments about people's intelligence based upon their faces and expressions.
One study found that individuals who had narrower faces and more prominent noses were more likely to be perceived as intelligent. People with smiling, joyful expression were also judged as being more intelligent than those with angry expressions.
The eyes are frequently referred to as the "windows to the soul" since they are capable of revealing a great deal about what a person is feeling or thinking.
As you engage in conversation with another person, taking note of eye movements is a natural and important part of the communication process.
Some common things you may notice include whether people are making direct eye contact or averting their gaze, how much they are blinking, or if their pupils are dilated.
The best way to read someone's body language is to pay attention. Look out for any of the following eye signals.
When a person looks directly into your eyes while having a conversation, it indicates that they are interested and paying attention . However, prolonged eye contact can feel threatening.
On the other hand, breaking eye contact and frequently looking away might indicate that the person is distracted, uncomfortable, or trying to conceal his or her real feelings.
Blinking is natural, but you should also pay attention to whether a person is blinking too much or too little.
People often blink more rapidly when they are feeling distressed or uncomfortable. Infrequent blinking may indicate that a person is intentionally trying to control his or her eye movements.
For example, a poker player might blink less frequently because he is purposely trying to appear unexcited about the hand he was dealt.
Pupil size can be a very subtle nonverbal communication signal. While light levels in the environment control pupil dilation, sometimes emotions can also cause small changes in pupil size.
For example, you may have heard the phrase "bedroom eyes" used to describe the look someone gives when they are attracted to another person. Highly dilated eyes, for example, can indicate that a person is interested or even aroused.
Mouth expressions and movements can also be essential in reading body language. For example, chewing on the bottom lip may indicate that the individual is experiencing feelings of worry, fear, or insecurity.
Covering the mouth may be an effort to be polite if the person is yawning or coughing, but it may also be an attempt to cover up a frown of disapproval.
Smiling is perhaps one of the greatest body language signals, but smiles can also be interpreted in many ways.
A smile may be genuine, or it may be used to express false happiness, sarcasm, or even cynicism.
When evaluating body language, pay attention to the following mouth and lip signals:
- Pursed lips. Tightening the lips might be an indicator of distaste, disapproval, or distrust.
- Lip biting. People sometimes bite their lips when they are worried, anxious, or stressed.
- Covering the mouth. When people want to hide an emotional reaction, they might cover their mouths in order to avoid displaying smiles or smirks.
- Turned up or down. Slight changes in the mouth can also be subtle indicators of what a person is feeling. When the mouth is slightly turned up, it might mean that the person is feeling happy or optimistic . On the other hand, a slightly down-turned mouth can be an indicator of sadness, disapproval, or even an outright grimace.
Gestures can be some of the most direct and obvious body language signals. Waving, pointing, and using the fingers to indicate numerical amounts are all very common and easy to understand gestures.
Some gestures may be cultural , however, so giving a thumbs-up or a peace sign in another country might have a completely different meaning than it does in the United States.
The following examples are just a few common gestures and their possible meanings:
- A clenched fist can indicate anger in some situations or solidarity in others.
- A thumbs up and thumbs down are often used as gestures of approval and disapproval.
- The "okay" gesture , made by touching together the thumb and index finger in a circle while extending the other three fingers can be used to mean "okay" or "all right." In some parts of Europe, however, the same signal is used to imply you are nothing. In some South American countries, the symbol is actually a vulgar gesture.
- The V sign , created by lifting the index and middle finger and separating them to create a V-shape, means peace or victory in some countries. In the United Kingdom and Australia, the symbol takes on an offensive meaning when the back of the hand is facing outward.
The Arms and Legs
The arms and legs can also be useful in conveying nonverbal information. Crossing the arms can indicate defensiveness. Crossing legs away from another person may indicate dislike or discomfort with that individual.
Other subtle signals such as expanding the arms widely may be an attempt to seem larger or more commanding, while keeping the arms close to the body may be an effort to minimize oneself or withdraw from attention.
When you are evaluating body language, pay attention to some of the following signals that the arms and legs may convey:
- Crossed arms might indicate that a person feels defensive, self-protective, or closed-off.
- Standing with hands placed on the hips can be an indication that a person is ready and in control, or it can also possibly be a sign of aggressiveness .
- Clasping the hands behind the back might indicate that a person is feeling bored, anxious, or even angry.
- Rapidly tapping fingers or fidgeting can be a sign that a person is bored, impatient, or frustrated.
- Crossed legs can indicate that a person is feeling closed-off or in need of privacy.
How we hold our bodies can also serve as an important part of body language.
The term posture refers to how we hold our bodies as well as the overall physical form of an individual.
Posture can convey a wealth of information about how a person is feeling as well as hints about personality characteristics, such as whether a person is confident, open, or submissive.
Sitting up straight, for example, may indicate that a person is focused and paying attention to what's going on. Sitting with the body hunched forward, on the other hand, can imply that the person is bored or indifferent.
When you are trying to read body language, try to notice some of the signals that a person's posture can send.
- Open posture involves keeping the trunk of the body open and exposed. This type of posture indicates friendliness, openness, and willingness.
- Closed posture involves hiding the trunk of the body often by hunching forward and keeping the arms and legs crossed. This type of posture can be an indicator of hostility, unfriendliness, and anxiety .
Have you ever heard someone refer to their need for personal space? Have you ever started to feel uncomfortable when someone stands just a little too close to you?
The term proxemics , coined by anthropologist Edward T. Hall, refers to the distance between people as they interact. Just as body movements and facial expressions can communicate a great deal of nonverbal information, so can the physical space between individuals.
Hall described four levels of social distance that occur in different situations.
Intimate Distance: 6 to 18 inches
This level of physical distance often indicates a closer relationship or greater comfort between individuals. It usually occurs during intimate contact such as hugging, whispering, or touching.
Personal Distance: 1.5 to 4 feet
Physical distance at this level usually occurs between people who are family members or close friends. The closer the people can comfortably stand while interacting can be an indicator of the level of intimacy in their relationship.
Social Distance: 4 to 12 feet.
This level of physical distance is often used with individuals who are acquaintances.
With someone you know fairly well, such as a co-worker you see several times a week, you might feel more comfortable interacting at a closer distance.
In cases where you do not know the other person well, such as a postal delivery driver you only see once a month, a distance of 10 to 12 feet may feel more comfortable.
Public Distance: 12 to 25 feet
Physical distance at this level is often used in public speaking situations. Talking in front of a class full of students or giving a presentation at work are good examples of such situations.
It is also important to note that the level of personal distance that individuals need to feel comfortable can vary from culture to culture.
One oft-cited example is the difference between people from Latin cultures and those from North America. People from Latin countries tend to feel more comfortable standing closer to one another as they interact, while those from North America need more personal distance.
Roles of Nonverbal Communication
Body language plays many roles in social interactions. It can help facilitate the following:
- Earning trust : Engaging in eye contact, nodding your head while listening, and even unconsciously mirroring another person's body language are all signals that you and someone else are bonding.
- Emphasizing a point : The tone of voice you use and the way you engage listeners with your hand and arm gestures, or by how you take up space, are all ways that affect how your message comes across.
- Revealing truths : When someone's body language doesn't match what they're saying, we might intuitively pick up on the fact that they are withholding information, or perhaps not being honest about how they feel.
- Tuning in to your own needs : Our own body language can reveal a lot about how we're feeling. For instance, are you in a slumped posture, clenching your jaw and/or pursing your lips? This may be a signal that the environment you're currently in is triggering you in some way. Your body might be telling you that you're feeling unsafe, stressed, or any number of emotions.
Remember, though, that your assumptions about what someone else's body language means may not always be accurate.
What does body language tell you about a person?
Body language can tell you when someone feels anxious, angry, excited, or any emotion. It may also suggest personality traits (i.e., whether someone is shy or outgoing). But, body language can be misleading. It is subject to a person's mood, energy level, and circumstances.
While in some cases, a lack of eye contact indicates untrustworthiness, for instance, it doesn't mean you automatically can't trust someone who isn't looking at you in the eyes. It could be they are distracted and thinking about something else. Or, again, it could be a cultural difference at play.
How to Improve Your Nonverbal Communication
The first step in improving your nonverbal communication is to pay attention. Try to see if you can pick up on other people's physical cues as well as your own.
Maybe when someone is telling you a story, you tend to look at the floor. In order to show them you're paying attention, you might try making eye contact instead, and even showing a slight smile, to show you're open and engaged.
What is good body language?
Good body language, also known as positive body language, should convey interest and enthusiasm. Some ways to do this include maintaining an upright and open posture, keeping good eye contact, smiling, and nodding while listening.
Using body language with intention is all about finding balance. For instance, when shaking someone's hand before a job interview, holding it somewhat firmly can signal professionalism. But, gripping it too aggressively might cause the other person pain or discomfort. Be sure to consider how other people might feel.
In addition, continue to develop emotional intelligence . The more in touch you are with how you feel, the easier it often is to sense how others are receiving you. You'll be able to tell when someone is open and receptive, or, on the other hand, if they are closed-off and need some space.
If we want to feel a certain way, we can use our body language to our advantage. For example, research found that people who maintained an upright seated posture while dealing with stress had higher levels of self-esteem and more positive moods compared to people who had slumped posture.
Of course, it's verbal and nonverbal communication—as well as the context of a situation—that often paints a full picture.
There isn't always a one-size-fits-all solution for what nonverbal cues are appropriate. However, by staying present and being respectful, you'll be well on your way to understanding how to use body language effectively.
A Word From Verywell
Understanding body language can go a long way toward helping you better communicate with others and interpreting what others might be trying to convey. While it may be tempting to pick apart signals one by one, it's important to look at these nonverbal signals in relation to verbal communication, other nonverbal signals, and the situation.
You can also learn more about how to improve your nonverbal communication to become better at letting people know what you are feeling—without even saying a word.
Foley GN, Gentile JP. Nonverbal communication in psychotherapy . Psychiatry (Edgmont) . 2010;7(6):38-44.
Tipper CM, Signorini G, Grafton ST. Body language in the brain: constructing meaning from expressive movement . Front Hum Neurosci . 2015;9:450. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00450
Todorov A, Baron SG, Oosterhof NN. Evaluating face trustworthiness: a model based approach. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2008;3(2):119-27. doi:10.1093/scan/nsn009
Ekman P. Darwin's contributions to our understanding of emotional expressions. Philos Trans R Soc Lond, B, Biol Sci. 2009;364(1535):3449-51. doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0189
Kleisner K, Chvátalová V, Flegr J. Perceived intelligence is associated with measured intelligence in men but not women. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(3):e81237. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081237
D'agostino TA, Bylund CL. Nonverbal accommodation in health care communication. Health Commun . 2014;29(6):563-73. doi:10.1080/10410236.2013.783773
Marchak FM. Detecting false intent using eye blink measures. Front Psychol. 2013;4:736. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00736
Jiang J, Borowiak K, Tudge L, Otto C, Von kriegstein K. Neural mechanisms of eye contact when listening to another person talking. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2017;12(2):319-328. doi:10.1093/scan/nsw127
Roter DL, Frankel RM, Hall JA, Sluyter D. The expression of emotion through nonverbal behavior in medical visits. Mechanisms and outcomes . J Gen Intern Med. 2006;21 Suppl 1:S28-34. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00306.x
Montgomery KJ, Isenberg N, Haxby JV. Communicative hand gestures and object-directed hand movements activated the mirror neuron system. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2007;2(2):114-22. doi:10.1093/scan/nsm004
Vacharkulksemsuk T, Reit E, Khambatta P, Eastwick PW, Finkel EJ, Carney DR. Dominant, open nonverbal displays are attractive at zero-acquaintance . Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2016;113(15):4009-14. doi:10.1073/pnas.1508932113
Hall ET. A system for the notation of proxemic behavior . American Anthropologist. October 1963;65(5):1003-1026. doi:10.1525/aa.1963.65.5.02a00020.
Hughes H, Hockey J, Berry G. Power play: the use of space to control and signify power in the workplace . Culture and Organization. 2019;26(4):298-314. doi:10.1080/14759551.2019.1601722
Chemelo VDS, Né YGS, Frazão DR, et al. Is there association between stress and bruxism? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Front Neurol . 2020;11:590779. doi:10.3389/fneur.2020.590779
Jarick M, Bencic R. Eye contact is a two-way street: arousal is elicited by the sending and receiving of eye gaze information. Front Psychol . 2019;10:1262. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01262
Fred HL. Banning the handshake from healthcare settings is not the solution to poor hand hygiene . Tex Heart Inst J . 2015;42(6):510-511. doi:10.14503/THIJ-15-5254
Nair S, Sagar M, Sollers J 3rd, Consedine N, Broadbent E. Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial . Health Psychol . 2015;34(6):632-641. doi:10.1037/hea0000146
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- Ekman P. Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life. 2nd ed. New York: Holt; 2007.
- Pease A, Pease B. The Definitive Book of Body Language. Orion Publishing Group; 2017.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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Use of Body Language in Communication
Did you know that while in India or America a Fantastic or an OK sign is demonstrated by forming a circle with your thumb and forefinger.
In Tunisia the same symbol means I will kill you and in Japan it means money?
Kinesics or study of body language must be understood by all. Whether it is an interview or a presentation, one must be aware of how to use body language effectively.
Read on to understand more about various non verbal components of communication...
It is very important that in a professional scenario a person must control his/her facial expressions.
For e.g. If a presenter gets a feel that his presentation is not going on very well, he/she should not show the sign of losing of hope and instead try for a greater involvement from the participants.
Enjoy working with kinesics. Good Luck!
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Head injuries in Australia 2020–21
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2023) Head injuries in Australia 2020–21 , AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 16 November 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2023). Head injuries in Australia 2020–21. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/head-injuries-in-australia-2020-21
Head injuries in Australia 2020–21. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 16 November 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/head-injuries-in-australia-2020-21
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Head injuries in Australia 2020–21 [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2023 [cited 2023 Nov. 16]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/head-injuries-in-australia-2020-21
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2023, Head injuries in Australia 2020–21 , viewed 16 November 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/head-injuries-in-australia-2020-21
Get citations as an Endnote file : Endnote
This report aims to count and describe incidents of injuries to the head that lead to hospital emergency department presentations.
The data on emergency department presentations for head injuries are from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) National Non-Admitted Patient Emergency Department Care Database (NNAPEDCD). Comprehensive information on the quality of ED data is available on the AIHW MyHospitals website .
The aim of this section of the report is to count the number of head injury emergency department presentations in Australian public hospitals from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, inclusive. In all cases included in this report, patients had a head injury diagnosis code in their record.
Emergency department presentations for injury incidents are generally more numerous than the number of hospitalisations. This is because many injuries can be treated in emergency departments and do not require admission to a hospital. Many more people with injuries are treated outside of a hospital such as at a general practice – these injuries are not captured in ED data. A small number of severe injuries result in the person being dead on arrival at the emergency department, these cases are counted in both the emergency department and deaths data sources. Cases that are hospitalised after presenting to emergency departments are counted in both ED and hospitals data sources.
Head injury emergency department presentations account for 21% of all emergency department injury presentations. This document covers:
- Definitions and classifications used
- Presentation of data in this report
- Analysis methods.
Non-Admitted Patient Emergency Department Care Data
The data supplied by state and territory health authorities for the Non-admitted Patient Emergency Department Care (NAPEDC) National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) were used by the AIHW to assemble the National Non-Admitted Patient Emergency Department Care Database (NNAPEDCD). The data cover waiting times and other characteristics of presentations to public hospital emergency departments.
From 2020–21, all jurisdictions provided data for the NNAPEDCD using the NAPEDC NMDS. The NNAPEDCD provides information on the care provided (including waiting times for care) for non-admitted patients registered for care in public hospital emergency departments that have:
- purposely designed and equipped area with designated assessment, treatment, and
- the ability to provide resuscitation, stabilisation, and initial management of all
- availability of medical staff in the hospital 24 hours a day
- designated emergency department nursing staff 24 hours per day 7 days per week, and a designated emergency department nursing unit manager.
Emergency departments (including ‘accident and emergency’ or ‘urgent care centres’) that do not meet the criteria above are not in scope for the NMDS, but data may have been provided for some of these by some states and territories.
Patients who were dead on arrival are in scope if an emergency department clinician certified the death of the patient. Patients who leave the emergency department after being registered/triaged to receive care and then advised of alternative treatment options are also in scope.
The scope includes only physical presentations to emergency departments. Advice provided by telephone or video conferencing is not in scope, although it is recognised that advice received by telehealth may form part of the care provided to patients physically receiving care in the emergency department. Also excluded from the scope of the NMDS is care provided to patients in general practitioner co-located units.
Since 2003–04, data for the NNAPEDCD have been reported annually. The most recent reference period for this data set includes records for Non-admitted patient emergency department service episodes between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021.
This report is the first use of NNAPEDCD for AIHW national injury surveillance. Future injury reports may use slightly different procedures of extracting and analysing data from this source, and care should be considered when making direct comparisons to this report.
Summary of key data quality issues
Overall, the quality of the data in the NNAPEDCD is sufficient to be published in this report. However, the following limitations of the data should be taken into consideration when data are interpreted.
States and territories are primarily responsible for the quality of the data they provide. However, the AIHW undertakes extensive validations on receipt of data. Potential errors are queried with jurisdictions, and corrections and resubmissions may be made in response to these edit queries. The AIHW does not adjust data to account for possible data errors or missing values, except where stated.
The AIHW takes active steps to improve the consistency of these data over time.
For 2020–21, the NNAPEDCD may not include emergency presentations to hospitals that have emergency departments that are not in scope for the NAPEDC NMDS. The inclusion criteria for emergency departments may exclude some smaller regional public hospitals.
Prior to 2020–21, the following jurisdictions have provided data to the NNAPEDCD using the NAPEDC National Best Endeavours Data Set (NBEDS) specification:
- Queensland (from 2015–16 to 2019–20);
- Victoria and Western Australia (from 2016–17 to 2019–20).
All other states and territories used the NAPEDC NMDS. The data provided using the NAPEDC NBEDS may not be entirely comparable with data provided using the NAPEDC NMDS.
Although there are national standards for data on non-admitted patient emergency department services, the way those services are defined and counted varies across states and territories, and over time.
Missing or invalid data
In some cases, the data provided may include missing values (for example, the date/time of physical departure was not recorded), or invalid values (for example, if the time of physical departure was recorded as occurring before the time of presentation).
External cause data
The NNAPEDCD does not include a field for external cause of injury (such as a fall or transport accident) or other related data such as place of occurrence, mechanism of the injury, activity being undertaken at the time, intent and perpetrator. Australian injury surveillance systems have a major focus on the external causes of injuries, which is especially important from a prevention perspective. The absence of these national data obstructs direct comparisons between the causes of injury across hospitalisations, deaths, and ED presentation data.
Reporting diagnosis information
For the 2020–21 NAPEDC NMDS/NBEDS, diagnosis information was reported using the ED ICD-10-AM version 11 shortlist that can be found on the website of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority .
Episode end status
There is a difference between the number of presentations with a type of visit of Dead on arrival and the number of presentations with an episode end status of Dead on arrival . All presentations with a type of visit of Dead on arrival had an episode end status of Dead on arrival . However, some presentations with an episode end status of Dead on arrival did not have a type of visit of Dead on arrival .
Estimated resident populations
All populations are based on the estimated resident population (ERP) population as at 30 June immediately prior to the reporting period (that is, for the reporting period 2020–21, the population at 30 June 2020 is used). The population is used as the denominator for age‑specific and age‑standardised rates.
The ERP as at 30 June 2001 is used as the standardising population throughout the report (ABS 2003).
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting Australian Government closure of the international border from 20 March 2020 disrupted the usual Australian population trends. The ERP for 30 June 2020, used in this report, reflects this disruption.
All population data are sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as follows:
- General populations are from National, state and territory population
- Remoteness populations (available on request from ABS)
- Socio-Economic Indexes For Areas (SEIFA) Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage (IRSD) quintile populations are from AIHW analysis of Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (ABS 2018) and Regional population .
This report estimates the number of incidents of head injuries that lead to an emergency department presentation. This represents 21% of injury-related emergency department presentations in the NAPEDC.
The following criteria were used to estimate numbers of cases of head injury emergency department presentations in Australia.
- Financial year of presentation, records dated from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 inclusive
- Head injury principal diagnosis in the ICD-10-AM range S00–S09, T00.0, T01.0, T02.0, T03.0, T04.0, T06.0, T15, T16, T20, T26, T33.0, T34.0, T35.2 ( Table 1 ) using ‘Chapter 19 Injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes’.
Some analysis compared emergency department presentations for head injuries with all injuries. Alongside the scope above for head injuries, all injuries were identified through the following criteria:
- Financial year of presentation, from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021
- Principal diagnosis in the ICD-10-AM range S00–T75 or T79 using ‘Chapter 19 Injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes’.
This scope excludes injuries due to Complications of surgical and medical care (T80 – T88) and Sequelae of injuries, of poisoning and of other consequences of external causes (T90 – T98) in line with our reporting on injury hospitalisations.
While up to two additional diagnoses can be reported within the data collection, very few records within the NAPEDC contain additional diagnoses. 6.8% of observations in the 2020-21 NAPEDC database had a first additional diagnosis, while just 0.6% contained a second additional diagnosis. Consequently, only presentations with a relevant principal diagnosis were considered within the selection criteria.
The totals in tables include data only for those states and territories for which data were available, as indicated in the tables. Throughout the report, percentages may not add up to 100.0 because of rounding. Percentages and rates shown as 0.0 or 0 indicate a zero.
Head location and injury type are derived from the principal diagnosis of the case. The sum of injuries by body part may not equal the total number of injury emergency department presentations because some injuries are not described in terms of body region.
The patient’s age is calculated at the date of admission. In tables by age group and sex, presentations for which age and/or sex were not reported are included in the totals.
Suppression of data
The AIHW is committed to reporting that maximises the value of information released for users while being statistically reliable and meeting legislative requirements described in the AIHW Act and the Privacy Act .
Data (cells) in tables may be suppressed to maintain the privacy or confidentiality of a person or organisation; or because a proportion, rate (numerator or denominator) or other measure is related to a small number of events (and may therefore not be reliable). Data may also be suppressed to avoid attribute disclosure. The abbreviation ‘n.p.’ (not published) has been used in tables to denote these suppressions. In these tables, the suppressed information is included in the totals.
Principal diagnosis reporting
From 2018–19, Principal diagnoses were provided using the ICD-10-AM Principal Diagnosis Short List, developed by the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) from the full version of ICD-10-AM.
For 2020–21, the short list was based on ICD-10-AM version 11.
The codes included in scope for head injury ED presentations were the same as those used for admitted patients. Since some jurisdictions code the principal diagnosis from the ICD-10-AM version 11 rather than the Principal Diagnosis Short List, these codes were included for completeness. In 2020–21, there were 21 head injury presentations for codes not on the Principal Diagnosis Short List.
Waiting time to commencement of clinical care
The waiting times are determined as the time elapsed between presentation to the emergency department and the commencement of clinical care. The calculation is restricted to presentations with a type of visit of Emergency presentation , and presentations were excluded if the waiting time was missing or invalid, or if the patient Did not wait to be attended by a health care professional, was Dead on arrival or Registered, advised of another health service and left without being attended to . See Appendix A for information on the completeness of the data provided for waiting times calculations.
Proportion of presentations seen on time
The proportion of presentations seen on time was determined as the proportion of presentations in each triage category with a waiting time less than or equal to the maximum waiting time stated in the Australasian Triage Scale definition. Triage categories and respective clinically appropriate waiting times are as follows (for further details see AIHW METEOR ):
For this report, a patient with a triage category of Resuscitation was considered to be seen on time if the waiting time to commencement of clinical care was less than or equal to 2 minutes.
Quality of data on ED waiting times
For 2020–21, about 870 head injury cases that should have been included in the calculation of waiting times statistics were excluded, as they did not have a valid commencement of clinical care time recorded.
The criteria used to determine the proportion of Resuscitation patients seen on time varies between jurisdictions, therefore, the proportions of Resuscitation patients seen on time presented in this report may differ from those reported by individual jurisdictions.
Proportion of presentations ending in admission
The proportion of presentations ending in admission is determined as the proportion of all emergency presentations with an episode end status of Admitted to this hospital (either short-stay unit, hospital-in-the-home, or non-emergency department hospital ward).
Admission to hospital from emergency departments
Admission to hospital from emergency departments (for patients who were subsequently admitted) is calculated using the emergency department length of stay for presentations with an episode end status of Admitted to this hospital (either short-stay unit, hospital-in-the-home, or non-emergency department hospital ward) .
Age and sex of patient
All states and territories supplied the date of birth of the patient, from which the age of the patient at the date of presentation was calculated. For 32 records, the age of the patient could not be calculated, as date of birth was missing. For 46 records, the sex of the patient was reported as either Intersex or indeterminate or Not stated/inadequately described .
If not otherwise indicated, data elements were defined according to their definitions in the AIHW’s Metadata Online Registry (METEOR) , and summarised in the Glossary.
In particular, data element definitions for the Non-admitted patient emergency department care National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) are available online at: METEOR website .
Table 1 describes the inclusion for each major principal diagnosis category and the relevant ICD-10-AM codes.
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