In 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
- 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.