Gestures and Body Language

When you speak, your gestures and body language can empower you to emphasize and clarify your words. Body language can help you reinforce sincerity and enthusiasm.

Where do you start?

  1. Keep our three techniques in mind: 1) develop a message in your own words rather than memorizing the entire speech or reading it, 2) focus on individual listeners for eye contact, 3) think of at least a few words in your address that you emphasize using the vocal variety. See more on these with this blog post on three techniques (click here.) With time, these three things will help you connect with your audience naturally, and your body language will also emerge naturally.
  2. Put verbs into action when speaking to an audience by physically acting them out with your hands, your face, or your entire body. Plan a few gestures using preparation and practice. See ideas and tips on this in the following video.
  3. Move around the speaking area when you transition from one point to the other in your presentation. Move towards the audience when asking questions, making critical connections, or offering a revelation or a key takeaway from your speech.



Be aware of nervous expressions such as putting hands in your pockets, nodding your head excessively, using filler words like um and ah too often, pacing back and forth, or rocking from one side to the other. Learn to control these mannerisms. They can distract your audience and sap energy from your presentation. Ask your friends and coaches to give you feedback when they see those from you.

Another potent tool is recording your speech and watching it later. Please have a friend record your presentation, and then watch it at home. If you’d like, ask your coach if there is time to watch the video in class.

Food for thought:

  • Prepare and practice. Think of five verbs in your speech that you can put into action using gestures and body language, visualize yourself using them, and rehearse them at home.
  • Use the feedback loop of toastmasters; it can make a big difference. After all, you have your peers and friends in the same boat; you aren’t into this alone. Use that to your advantage.
  • Go on your cutting edge; no one is judging you at toastmasters. Try new ideas, and experiment with them. Over time you will develop your natural style.

Most important of all, have fun with it. Enjoy the process.

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