Stop Crucifying Your Presentations With Dumb Body Movements

Fotolia_54810524_XSIn terms of your presentation skills, every body movement you make can either strengthen the impact of your message or become a serious distraction to your audience.

Distracting body movements include such things as:

  • Clutching or leaning over the podium
  • Fidgeting with your clothes or jewelry
  • Constantly pacing back and forth across the stage
  • Swaying to and fro
  • Being over-enthusiastic with the laser pointer
  • Flailing arms at inappropriate moments
  • Frowning
  • Licking or biting your lips
  • Tapping your fingers
  • Fiddling with your hair
  • Swaying your head to and fro

An important goal therefore is to make every movement you make look natural. Use voice intonation and inflection in conjunction with movements you’re making to help emphasize points being made during the presentation. Make sure any such movements are either pre-planned or controlled by you; otherwise they could end up becoming a major distraction.

Many of these mannerisms originate from nervousness on stage and at times you may not even be aware you’re making them. To help get them under control, I’ve prepared a 5-step plan to guide you:

Step 1:      Prepare a quick video of yourself

This is easily done using a digital camera or cell/mobile phone. Footage will immediately show any distracting movements you may be making so you can focus on eliminating or suppressing them.

Make a note of places in the recording where you’re making these movements and thoughtfully re-practice your speech, actively avoiding making them.

Re-record yourself and continually review the recordings until you’re satisfied that all mannerisms are either eliminated or else minimized and in control.

Step 2:      Make mental edits to your video recording

Review the latest recording for areas where it’s obvious you need to add body movements to make the presentation more interesting.

Let your movements indicate the way you feel. These movements need to be natural so they’ll work in your favor when it comes to emphasizing specific points to your audience.

Step 3:      Make regular eye contact

Avoid looking ‘distant’ during your presentation as it can give the impression that you’re disengaged with your audience.

Let your audience know they are important by making regular eye contact along with appropriate facial expressions.

Step 4:      Get comfortable with your delivery

You need to feel natural as you present your topic – as though you’re sharing helpful and important information with a close friend.

This naturalness will of course come with practice, but also because you’re speaking from the heart and letting others know how you feel about your topic.

Step 5:      Work on minimizing nervousness

This will start to happen as you become increasingly familiar with your presentation material. And also as you take time to concentrate on clearly delivering your message, rather than the focus being on feelings of anxiety or fear.

 

Within reason, every movement you make needs to be planned during your presentation because it’s all too easy to lose your audience’s attention. After all, you’re the ‘enthusiast’ or ‘expert’ on this specific topic and you want them to accept that from the outset and remain totally captivated by what you’re saying rather than what you’re doing.

If you’ve got some experiences here (both good or bad) to share, then I’d love to hear from you. Please go ahead and post a comment below so it can be shared with others too.

Business Handshakes: 5 Golden Rules You Must Never Break

Fotolia_32141901_XSA handshake is much more than a simple greeting. From a personal development perspective, it’s also a messenger to others concerning your confidence levels and personality. In business, a handshake is critical for making a positive first impression. Despite cultural differences, the unwritten rules remain much the same:

1.   Introduce yourself before anything else

Do that before extending your hand otherwise it makes you come across as being nervous or overly aggressive.

2.   Shake their hand two or three times (bending from the elbow)

Use the whole hand (not just a few fingers) and keep it animated (no ‘dead fish’ or limp handshakes). Keep it brief because any longer tends to make people feel awkward.

3.   Don’t grip too hard (or too light)

It’s not meant to be a show of physical strength or a power struggle. The right level of grip should be similar to what you’d use when opening a door.

4.   Dealing with problems

Sweaty hands  – to avoid embarrassing the ‘shakee’, don’t wipe your hands immediately after the handshake in a way that is obvious to the other party.

5.   One shake using both hands

It’s always preferable to use just the one hand (typically the right hand) for the actual shake. Using two hands with strangers is viewed as intrusive and a little too personal. The two-handed shake is often referred to as the ‘politician’s handshake’ because it comes across as being artificially friendly when used on people that you hardly even know.

 

If you’re concerned your handshake didn’t convey the right message, then simply shift gears and offer some form of compliment or ask a question.

If you’ve had a memorable experience that you’d like to share then please post a comment below, thanks.

Bad Habit Assassin: Identify and Eliminate Like a Pro

iStock_000017482380_LargeWell done. By reading this you’ve already taken an important first step (from a personal development perspective) in recognizing your bad habits by acknowledging you’ve got some.

Perhaps you thought they weren’t all that bad to begin with. After all, you could easily break them whenever you wanted, right? Like smoking. The point here is that insignificant bad habits are a myth. Whatever they are, they need to be taken seriously and dealt with rather than you continuing to justify them.

The next step for you is to regain control of any of those bad habits by identifying them and writing them down. Be objective in terms of the degree to which you indulge in these habits and to what extent (personally, socially, financially) they affect your life and what positive effects a change could make. Clearly, the longer period of time you’ve been addicted to one bad habit or the other, the more difficult it’s going to be for you to let it go.

Bad habits not only waste your time, but also your money and strength. They continue to cause negativity in your mind and life until you discover a means of living with them instead of simply breaking them.

Now take a moment to write down some good habits you’d like to acquire. They could be the exact opposite of all your bad habits. For example, one of your bad habits might be drinking to excess whilst watching TV so the good habit might be to reduce or even stop drinking. Set yourself stretched but realistic time limits for replacing the bad with the good.

Place the list of positive good habits in a prominent place where you’ll have ready access to them each day (because negative bad habits tend to be relatively easy to establish compared with good habits, so this form of positive, regular and consistent reinforcement will be helpful to you).

Work on modifying your routine and avoid any person, place or thing that could end up tempting you in a negative way. Remember to aim to replace the space created as the bad habit leaves your body with something that feels positive and good. You have a clear choice, starting today. Let me and others know how you get on and post a comment below.