When you speak, your gestures and body language can be empowering tools to emphasize and clarify the words you use. The body language can help you reinforce sincerity and enthusiasm.
Where do you start?
- Keep our three techniques in mind: one, develop a message in your own words rather than memorizing the entire speech or reading it, two, focus on individual listeners for eye contact, and three, 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 on this link). With time, these three things will help you connect with your audience naturally, and your body language will emerge naturally for you as well.
- 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.
- 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 the nervous expressions such as putting hands in your pockets, nodding your head excessively, or using filler words like um and ah too often, or pacing back and forth or slightly 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 to record your speech, and then watch it later on. Have a friend record your presentation, and then watch it at home. If you’d like, ask your coach maybe if there is time to watch the video in the class.
Food for thought:
- Prepare and practice. Think of five verbs in your speech that you can put in action using gestures and body language, visualize yourself using it, rehearse it a few times at home.
- Use the feedback loop of toastmasters; it can make a big difference. After all, you have your peers and friends also in the same boat; you aren’t into this by yourself. Use that to your advantage.
- Go on your cutting-edge; no one is judging you at toastmasters. Try new ideas, experiment with it, over time you will develop your natural style.
Most important of all, have fun with it. Enjoy the process.