When your audience sees you, they immediately start screening you. Their subconscious minds are like search engines, filtering all the data and finding the most crucial information. Of course, you want to show up at the top of everyone’s results page – and for positive reasons.
You want your audience to see you as a friend – a good person who can add value to them. To that end, remember the 3 keys to your “Search Engine Optimisation” – the trinity of winning body language:
• Eye Contact
• Open Posture; Open Palms
Obvious as these things may seem, look around and you’ll notice that few people have actually made them habit.
How about yourself? Do you have a winning smile? If so, are you making the most of it? Do you communicate warmth, interest and enthusiasm through your eyes? Or do you spend more time looking down, staring into space or reading your slides? What does your posture say about you? Are you confident or timid? Trustworthy or shifty? Friendly or aggressive?
Don’t fret. Here’s a crash course on how to improve your body language.
Smile. The best way to improve your smile is to be happy! So, get yourself in a good mood before your presentation (before you do anything, actually). Get a hug; Watch some comedy; Pump yourself up with your favourite music; Do whatever you need to do.
Don’t misunderstand – I’m not suggesting that you smile constantly, regardless of your speech content. After all, Martin Luther King wasn’t all smiles in his “I have a dream” speech. But for most presentations, a smile is a good default as long as it doesn’t contrast with your talking point.
Eye Contact. By now, you should already be smiling with your eyes! The next thing to do is make sure you have good eye contact with your audience.
Look at people in your audience as if you’re having a conversation – because you are. Try not to leave anyone out.
Of course, you’ll get better eye-contact from the more attentive people in your audience. And it’s natural to reward it. Still, when you’re presenting to a small-medium size audience, try to catch everyone’s eye at least once every few minutes.
When you present to larger audiences, it may not be possible to lock eyes with everyone. For those situations, here’s a handy tip: Focus on clusters of the audience, tracing a “W”. Addressing these five hotspots will help make the whole audience feel included.
Open Posture; Open Palms. Body language expert, Mark Bowden, says that displaying openness with your body language communicates “no tools; no weapons” to the “primitive brain”. Presenting yourself like this – leaving your vital organs unguarded – shows that you are relaxed, confident and mean no harm. It says that you are honest, friendly and generous.
Although you will naturally make various body gestures throughout your presentation, this is a great default for most of the time – tall posture, proud (yet relaxed) chest and open palms around your navel level.
Give it a try and post a comment below.