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Boosting Your Body Language for Better Presentations

Preparing the content of your deck is only half the battle in delivering a presentation. You can have the most beautifully designed and eloquently written presentation in history, but if your public speaking skills are not up to snuff, then it will be all for naught. Your body language can tell a different story.

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As the saying goes, “it’s not about what you say, but how you say it.”

Simply put, delivering a good presentation takes demonstrating good body language. Presentation experts will tell you, beyond simply knowing your content, it’s important to be able to show confidence and relatability in front of your audience. When your body language complements your content, then you’re sure to deliver a great presentation.

In this article, we’ll tackle the key aspects of body language that will boost your presentation skills to the next level.

Posture

Whether you’re sitting down or standing up, how you carry yourself greatly affects the entire mood of your presentation. You never want to be caught slouching, as it makes you look lazy and unprofessional.

Maintaining an upright and open posture presents a confident and charismatic stance to your audience. It also makes you feel more confident.

A good tip is to loosen up before your presentation. It’s meant to release all the nervous tension that may cause you to stand or sit in awkward positions.

Eye contact

Perhaps one of the most neglected steps in presenting is establishing a good connection with the audience.

The stronger the connection, the more receptive your audience will be to what you’re presenting. The quickest way to develop that is with eye contact. It sends a subtle message that you are paying attention to them, making you deserve their attention.

It may seem like a small detail, but it also subconsciously tells them how confident you are in your presentation.

Facial expressions

While we’re on the topic of connections, remember to be aware of your facial expressions.

When it’s appropriate, you’ll want to smile as much as possible. No one enjoys sitting through a presentation from someone who looks like they do not want to be there.

Remember that audiences tend to mimic or feed off the emotions of the presenter facing them.

With a smile on your face, you have the power to uplift the room you step in front of.

Gestures and Movement

As the presenter, it’s your mission to keep your audience engaged. Incorporating hand gestures and movement can be what makes the difference between a dull presentation and a captivating one.

Think of your arms and legs as storytelling tools. Hand gestures add emphasis to your speech while movement along the stage can guide the attention of your audience. And like any tool, you must handle these with care and precision. You need to strike a balance in your use of gestures and movements so that they come off as part of your natural motions and not overly rehearsed.

While presentation styles may vary from person to person, body language is universal. It’s a form of communication that speaks beyond words and potentially adds to the impact of your presentation.

To presentation specialists, using subtle hints in body language is an invaluable skill in communication and public speaking. With enough practice, you’ll be instinctively using your body language to deliver more dynamic presentations.

To learn more ways to elevate your presentations, you can contact us anytime! At SlideGenius, it’s our passion to design exceptional PowerPoint presentations. We believe that good business starts with a well-made presentation.

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What Do Great Public Speakers Have in Common?

Effective speakers ensure to leave lasting impressions during each presentation. Being a great public speaker means being able to translate your expertise into words understandable enough for your audience to comprehend even if they have very little knowledge on the topic.

Apart from having a well-designed custom PowerPoint presentation, you also need to be confident in the delivery of your pitch. Not everyone has the inherent talent of flawlessly delivering their speech in front of a large audience.

Here are some of the notable traits that effective speakers possess—keep your eyes trained for qualities that are guaranteed to inspire, influence, and make a significant difference on your audience’s lives:

They start strong and end strong.

When the opening is executed right, it immediately engages the audience and all you have to do as the speaker is keep their attention on you for the duration of the presentation. Remember, the first words that spill from your mouth can either make or break your sales pitch.

Apart from this, you also have to end things as strong as your beginning. Pro tip: pattern your presentation akin to a story, wherein it has a beginning, middle, and end. The more memorable your speech is, the greater the chances of memory retention.

They exude confidence.

Even the world’s best orators get nervous, but their strength lies in their ability to conquer their nerves instead of the other way around. Your audience can smell fear and uncertainty—if you show weakness, the less likely it will be to engage and motivate them.

They speak in the audience’s language.

The head of TED, Chris Anderson, shares that the speaker’s primary objective is to build their idea in the minds of their audience. This means it should be communicated in a way that changes someone’s perspective, potentially influencing their actions for the present and the future.

One of his tips included speaking in the audience’s language. This means avoiding the use of industry jargon and instead, using metaphors and information that listeners are more familiar with.

He also recommends practicing in front of friends and have them give their feedback on which parts confuse them the most so that the speaker can improve their presentation.

They mix words with gestures.

Not only is modulating important, but so are mannerisms, as these also make an impact. These help convey your enthusiasm and convictions, putting emphasis on important information.

Most importantly, great speakers connect with their audience—don’t be afraid to make eye contact and ask rhetorical questions. Remember, your listeners should be able to relate with what you’re saying.

They are organized.

When your presentation is structured and is executed with a sound agenda, the more comprehensible it will be for your audience. Experienced speakers make sure that they clarify their objectives before presenting, as this will make the flow easier to follow. Plus, this allows audience members to save their questions for the appropriate sections

Public speaking is not an easy feat, but with practice and these principles in mind, you’ll be on the right track to becoming one of the best speakers out there.

Body Language Mistakes to Avoid During Presentations

When you’re conversing with someone, which of the following do you do: look at that person in the eye or look away? focus or check your watch every few seconds? listen or play with your fingers, seemingly absentminded?

There are many negative connotations when you answer the latter for every pair. That’s because arbitrary cognition affects how people perceive your actions. In short, body language. The more negative those perceptions are, the more badly it reflects upon you, especially when you’re onstage and speaking in front of a large crowd.

But what specific “negative body language” indicators do you have to avoid during a presentation? Below are a few.

Body Language Mistake to Avoid During a Presentation: Crossing Arms

Poor Posture

If anything, this will be the most glaring and most obvious presentation blunder you can make. Slumped shoulders and slouching are its two biggest indicators, and they already tell much: nervousness, little to no confidence, a feeling of discomfort and inferiority, and that hint of the “I don’t really want to be here” idea. Poor posture reflects as much on your audience as it does to your own body.

Instead, practice proper posture in front of a mirror. A straight body not only improves bodily functions, like blood circulation, breathing, and the like, but also exudes an air of confidence and self-worth. Then, when you’re in front of your audience, do the same and think of it as your power pose. They will perceive you as a professional with the right things in mind to be worth their time.

Crossing Arms

Defensiveness is not a new concept. Humans survived basically because of it. But when talking about body language, it’s not a good thing; it gives off the message that you aren’t receptive to anything, are resistant to everything except yourself, and would rather stay in your comfort zone—three things you wouldn’t want your audience to emulate because, by then, your words will fall on deaf ears.

What do you do with your hands then? A good trick is incorporating hand movements to your spiel. If you’re about to introduce a point, motion to the audience. If you want a word or phrase emphasized, you can point to your presentation. You can also address to your viewers with a welcoming wave using both hands.

Body Language Mistake to Avoid During a Presentation: Turning Your Back

Exaggerated Gestures

Moving around the stage is good. It makes your speech lively with movements and can even draw attention to you and/or to what you’re pointing to, especially when emphasizing points (see above). But there is such a thing as “over the top.”

There should be a limit. If you use exaggerated gestures, like doing a sweeping wave when a small movement of the hand is enough, you can be seen as trying too hard or being too theatrical; the latter isn’t necessarily bad, per se, but if what you’re doing diverts your audience’s attention away from your words, then it’s time to keep your actions in check or, at least, dial it down a notch.

Turning Your Back

There’s a reason live TV strictly discourages showing its stars’ back to the camera: it’s to show the faces of the actors and actresses, the best tools they can use to portray the emotions the scene evokes.

It’s the same with public speaking. What would you rather your audience see: your back or your face? Choosing the former can denote that you’re not really interested in seeing them—much more talk to them. The worst perception is that you don’t trust and respect your viewers. Soon, they’ll reciprocate that feeling and think they just wasted their time.

Don't Forget to Make Eye Contact During Your Presentation

Make Eye Contact

Have you ever had a conversation with an individual where your eyes just don’t meet, and you feel more awkward with each passing moment? Not having eye contact gives off the air and sentiment that much of what happens isn’t worth the time and could be just safely ignored. Thus, trust isn’t formed.

Looking at your audience members eye to eye fosters better understanding of each other because of the sincerity and trust that comes with it. You feel there’s a deeper connection steadily forming from that connection. The more it develops, the more your audience sees what makes you stand and speak in front of them: “confidence, leadership, strength, and intelligence,” as Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, writes.

When it comes right down to it, when hundreds of pairs of eyes are on you, there’s no greater fear than making a mistake and humiliating yourself. With the wrong kinds of body language, you’re just digging your grave deeper. When you’re rehearsing, take extra care and effort to eliminate these habits, no matter how much of a mannerism they have become. It’ll serve you better in the long run.

Resources:

Babar, Tayab. “8 Fatal Body Language Mistakes to Avoid During Presentations.” Lifehack. n.d. www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/8-fatal-body-language-mistakes-avoid-during-presentations.html

Bradberry, Travis. “13 Body Language Blunders that Make You Look Bad.” Huffington Post. March 4, 2017. www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/13-body-language-blunders-that-make-you-look-bad_us_58b88c2fe4b02eac8876cc70

Chernoff, Marc. “25 Acts of Body Language to Avoid.” Marc & Angel Hack Life. July 7, 2008. www.marcandangel.com/2008/07/07/25-acts-of-body-language-to-avoid

Economy, Peter. “9 Body Language Habits That Make You Look Really Unprofessional.” Inc. May 13, 2016. www.inc.com/peter-economy/9-body-language-habits-that-make-you-look-really-unprofessional.html

Grickej, Peter. “5 Negative Effects of Bad Posture on Your Body and Mind.” Posturebly. June 20, 2014. www.posturebly.com/5-negative-effects-of-bad-posture-on-your-body-and-mind

Herold, Cameron. “5 Absolute Worst Body Language Mistakes Made at Work.” COO Alliance. November 16, 2016. www.cooalliance.com/blog/communication/5-absolute-worst-body-language-mistakes-made-at-work

Navarro, Joe. “The Psychology of Body Language.” Psychology Today. November 29, 2009. www.psychologytoday.com/blog/spycatcher/200911/the-psychology-body-language

Smith, Jacquelyn. “The 11 Worst Body Language Mistakes Professionals Make.” Business Insider. April 17, 2014. www.businessinsider.com/common-body-language-mistakes-employees-make-2014-4

3 Things that Enhance Audience Engagement in a Presentation

Attracting the audience’s attention can be tricky, especially if you’re a first-time presenter. Not knowing the right way to engage listeners and pique their attention due to a lack of experience can bore the crowd and make them anxious. But play the right cards and you’ll find that there are a number of ways to keep people engaged. One of the easiest is to interact with your audience.

We don’t just mean getting to know your listeners before the presentation, although that can give you an idea of how to speak and act on stage as well.

Take note of the little things you do during your pitch. Notice that your body language and your choice of words can make a big difference in how people see you. Displaying confidence in your actions can help establish your credibility and make you appear more trustworthy.

Here are three things to watch out for to enhance audience engagement:

1. Stage Presence

People want to see confidence and sincerity in a speaker, so don’t stand in one spot on the stage. Your movements dictate how the audience responds to you. Claiming the space around you by pacing the stage makes you appear more at ease with your environment since you’re not afraid to go near the audience and engage them with your presence.

For presentations or speeches that require a passionate or emotional delivery – for instance, a declamation or a TED talk – you’re encouraged to roam freely on stage. According to presentation expert Olivia Mitchell, doing so can establish a more intimate connection between you and your audience, as discussed in her Speaking About Presenting article. The proximity of your physical presence helps them flesh out a more human sense of the presenter rather than a detached speaker relating distant points.

Discern when it’s appropriate to act lively on stage, like when you’re announcing a new product. Familiarize yourself with your presentation, from your content, to the visuals on your deck. This lets you know when it would be appropriate to take control of the stage, and when to focus on explaining your points.

It’s also important to know the venue and equipment you’ll be using beforehand to figure out whether it’s possible to move around the space, or whether it would be best to use minimal gestures. For instance, formal settings like boardroom meetings may require less expressive movements.

Use your stage presence and explore it to your advantage.

2. Image Projection

How you project yourself through your actions affects how people perceive you. It’s important to make a good first impression, and maintain this appearance throughout your presentation. This determines whether the audience will buy into what you’re saying or not.

In her famous TED Talk, which has been featured across various sites and journals, including an article on the New York Times by David Hochman, social psychologist Amy Cuddy discusses the advantages of power posing. Cuddy asked a few Zappos employees in one of her studies to change their pose by “making themselves big” for a few minutes.

In the experiment, the perceived confidence resulted in increased confidence among the employees. Opening yourself up by standing with your shoulders back and your arms away from your chest shows that you’re not nervous or afraid.

Conversely, folding your entire body by hunching forward makes you seem unconfident, making listeners less likely to invest their time in you. Other ways of non-verbally projecting confidence include establishing eye contact with the audience, suiting your facial expressions to the occasion needed, and enacting hand gestures that can strengthen your points.

Doing these will foster deeper connections with the audience by making your physical presence felt throughout your pitch, ensuring a thorough command of people’s attention.

3. Relevant Questions

Even the best speeches have had a few people dozing off in them. When you find your own listeners falling asleep or getting distracted, call back their attention by asking them relevant questions.

For example, if you’re presenting in front of potential clients, ask them about their experiences with other products in the market, and respond by presenting your own alternative.

This method avoids singling out anyone or embarrassing them to call their attention. It allows you to not only capture people’s attention, but also foster more concrete connections by showing you care about what they think. More often than not, the audience is attuned to how a pitch will benefit them, rather than how it will benefit the presenter. Make sure to establish that you’re focused on the audience’s wellbeing rather than your personal profit.

Prompt encouraging questions in your presentation. Something like, “What did you think of this part of the presentation?” can bring them into the dialogue between the presenter and audience. At the same time, when it’s their turn to do the asking, validate all types of questions given to you, and don’t divulge all your information during your actual presentation.

Get the audience thinking, but make sure that all your statements enhance your point, not detract people from it. With this, you hit two birds with one stone: you regain audience attention, and help your main presentation progress.

Conclusion

Audience engagement is one of the trickiest, but also most necessary aspects of a presentation. You won’t be able to convince anyone without making them feel like you’re worth listening to.

Make use of your given space by freely moving on it, and project a confident image through your posture to boost the audience’s interest in what you have to say. But don’t overdo the movement. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings, audience type, and equipment to make sure you don’t give off the wrong message. Keep your gestures appropriate within the type of presentation you’re giving.

You can also try asking the right questions. This is always helpful in winning back any lost attention and letting people participate in your pitch’s progress. Remember that the audience is more interested in how your presentation will benefit them, so keep your pitch geared towards participative and engaging interactions with people.

Move your listeners for a winning speech. But it won’t be complete without a perfect slide deck to match. Contact our SlideGenius experts today for your presentation need and get a free quote!

 

References

“8 Tips for Encouraging Questions in Your Presentation.” Speaking about Presenting. Accessed December 8, 2015. www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/audience/presentation-question-time

Hochman, David. “Amy Cuddy Takes a Stand.” The New York Times. September 20, 2014. Accessed December 8, 2015. www.nytimes.com/2014/09/21/fashion/amy-cuddy-takes-a-stand-TED-talk.html?_r=2

Mitchell, Olivia. “9 Ways to Use Space in Your Presentation.” Speaking about Presenting. Accessed December 8, 2015. www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/delivery/9-ways-space-presentation

 

Featured Image: “Etech05: Audience” by James Duncan Davidson on flickr.com

How Does Fidgeting Affect Your Professional Presentation?

Good posture is essential in public speaking because it allows you to project confidence. Slouching, swaying, and moving restlessly will only make you look nervous and unprepared.

Projecting yourself professionally involves cutting off bad habits like fidgeting. If you aren’t aware of how it can affect your performance, you’ll end up distracting and disappointing your audience.

Fidgeting is a display of constant movements that disturb others. In her book, How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, internationally acclaimed communications expert and motivational speaker Leil Lowndes advises presenters to avoid committing the behavior: “Whenever your conversation really counts, let your nose itch, your ear tingle, or your foot prickle. Do not fidget, twitch, wiggle, squirm, or scratch.”

Fiddling with your notes, playing with your hands, loosening your collar, and gripping the lectern’s corners are only a few examples of this behavior.

Presenters subconsciously fidget when they’re experiencing performance anxiety or stage fright, which trigger stress hormones. Here are a few tips to cut off the bad habit and ace your professional presentation:

Observe Yourself

Professional presentation tips: Observe your action

According to public speaking coach Jacki Rose, body language makes up the biggest part of successful communication. As you rehearse, consider recording yourself to observe how you behave during your pitch. It doesn’t only help you identify what you need to improve on; it also lets you pinpoint what needs to be removed, including unnecessary movements.

Ask your peers to watch you and let them give feedback afterward. Do this several times and review what causes you to commit the same habit. Is it because of technical problems? Did someone from your listeners distract you?

Once you recognize what prompted this act, use your positive habits to counter the negative ones and emphasize your ideas. If tapping your foot on the ground is one of those good habits, start stepping forward when explaining a certain point.

Take Time to Relax

Professional presentation tips: take time to relax

You might think this is common for presenters, but it’s not.

Reminding yourself to relax releases tension and lets you focus on what you need to accomplish. If speaking in front of a large crowd makes you fidget, develop positive self-talk and feed yourself with encouraging thoughts.

Worrying won’t help. Believing in yourself improves your confidence, allowing you to maintain a positive outlook while speaking in public. Never allow fear to overpower your self-esteem. Calm your nerves by breathing deeply to soothe anxiety. With deliberate practice, you can improve your strengths and slowly overcome your weaknesses.

Be Well-Prepared

Professional presentation tips: be prepared

Whether you’re a skilled veteran or a novice, preparation is still vital for your success. Delivery is more important than well-prepared visuals in achieving an effective presentation.

Preparation involves training yourself. In this case, you’re training to catch yourself fidgeting or projecting unnecessary gestures. Stand in front of a mirror to give you an idea of how you look while presenting.

Once you’re ready, you’ll be more confident to speak and convince your audience to listen.

Stop Fidgeting

Professional presentation tips: stop fidgetting

You won’t be able to overcome negative behavior without figuring out what causes bad mannerisms. Having a positive mindset will help you move toward achieving self-confidence.

Remember, your audience doesn’t only rely on your presentation’s content. Nonverbal cues also contribute in interpreting your message clearly. Break bad habits by observing yourself, calming your nerves, and being well-equipped to prevent any distractions that can ruin your performance and delay your success.

Resist the temptation to start fidgeting and notice how it makes you a better presenter.

Back up your skills with a well-designed PowerPoint presentation by letting our team to assist and offer you a free quote!

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References

Lowndes, Leil. How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships. Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books, 2003.
Rose, Jacki. “Body Language – stop your nervous fidgeting!” Public Speaking Can Be Fun, January 8, 2007. www.publicspeakingcanbefun.blogspot.com/2007/01/body-language-stop-your-nervous.html

Using Laser Pointers for Effective PowerPoint Presentations

How often do you use a laser pointer to highlight a key point on your slide? Though they’re useful tools for your presentation, laser pens or pointers can unintentionally distract audiences from focusing on your topic. This may happen when you’re overly focused on highlighting a certain point on your deck instead of explaining each idea clearly from your pitch.

While they can help you emphasize a particular idea projected onscreen, they can also keep you from actively engaging your listeners. How? Pointing out something on your slides forces you to look at it rather than establishing an eye contact with your audience. If done frequently, it might prevent you from moving closer to the crowd and interacting with them.

To Use or Not to Use?

Laser Pointers for Effective PowerPoint Presentations Ideas

Pointing at data or objects on the slide with a laser pointer easily attracts attention. This is because the human eye is more sensitive to things in motion rather than still ones. That said, a gleaming and clear dot can be easily detected by our eyes, causing others to pay attention to the detail being pointed out.

However, there are speakers who subconsciously wave it around the room. The reason might be forgetting to turn it off while trying to expound on facts and arguments. Other presenters can also mistakenly point it at their audience. This is why in-depth practice is needed to avoid such incidents. When preparing for the big day, make sure to rehearse your pitch together with your slides to give you an idea when to use the laser pointer when delivering your message.

Whether caused by nervousness or unsteady hands, these actions negatively impact your presentation. Instead of drawing your audience to your performance and directing them to pay attention to your slides, they might get disturbed and distracted. This, in turn, will keep them from getting the intended message and understanding your point.

This is why you need to be careful in handling this tool to avoid losing their interest.

What Should You Do?

Disturbing Laser Pointers in PowerPoint Presentations

You may be asking if a mere pointing device can really improve and strengthen your pitch. However, the answer may depend more on how you convey your message.

With or without a laser pointer, an engaging and dynamic approach keeps your audience in tune with your discussion. However, in this post, we’ll focus on how its usage makes an effective pitch.

Indeed, there are speakers who use laser pointers to read text or encircle an object on the slide. This can work well if you’re speaking in front of a few people. Take note that these shouldn’t be abused and overdone to avoid turning off your listeners.

Aside from crafting a well-designed deck that summarizes your main points, here are a few tips on how you can amplify your performance with laser pointers:

1. Choose your words wisely

performance with laser pointers in powerpoint presentations

If you’re trying to put emphasis on a particular point, make sure not to state the obvious. Instead of uttering phrases like “This one,” start saying “The image shows” to describe the object displayed on your slide. Aside from displaying professionalism by not stating something that can be seen by the audience, it’s also beneficial to some members who find hard to see the laser pointer.

Doing so also gives you the impression that you’re well-prepared and experienced in terms of speaking appropriate words that show respect to your listeners. If they notice that you’ve given much effort in it, they’re more likely to listen and focus on what you’re saying.

2. Maximize your body movement

Maximize your content: lazer pointer in powerpoint presentations

If your topic requires a dynamic approach, then feel free to move and maximize your body language. Whether you’re emphasizing a certain key point or describing something that requires exaggerated movements, do so to support and complement the object of discussion. However, it doesn’t mean that you can use whatever movements or gestures you desire to show without considering if it’ll help strengthen what you’re trying to convey.

Also, make sure to turn off the laser pen when doing so to avoid pointing it towards the audience.

3. Learn to pause

Laser Pointers for Effective PowerPoint Presentations: learn to pause

If you know your topic by heart, you’ll be aware of when to stop and proceed. If you want your audience to recall an important idea, you’ll give them enough time to absorb your message by learning the art of pausing. This can be mastered through deliberate practice and preparation before your actual performance. Before you speak in front, go back to your script, pinpoint those statements that need emphasis, and mark them to guide you when to pause.

You can also record yourself when rehearsing. This will help you pace your speech and match the right words with appropriate body movements.

To Sum It Up: Don’t Overuse Your Point

powerpoint presentations: Don’t Overuse Your Point

Whether you’ll be using a laser pointer or not, you still need a well-designed and animated PowerPoint deck to complement your message. Select the right words, maximize your body language, and learn to pause when using a laser pointer to help you deliver more interesting and impactful PowerPoint presentations.

Consider using pointers as a way to highlight elements in your slide deck for a focused presentation. Never allow your laser pointers to control you. Instead, control them to aim for your purpose.

Our PowerPoint professionals can assist and offer you a free quote to produce well-crafted PowerPoint decks.

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References

“Effective Presentations with Laser Pointers.” Colblindor. May 22, 2006. www.color-blindness.com/2006/05/22/effective-presentations-with-laser-pointers
“Presentation Myths: I Need a Laser Pointer.” The Singular Scientist. July 21, 2013. www.womeninwetlands.blogspot.com/2013/07/presentation-myths-i-need-laser-pointer.html

Body Talk: 3 Body Language Tips to Boost Self-Esteem

Positive body language is often seen as the effect of self-confidence. But it can also be the other way around.

According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, people experience a boost in self-esteem when they change their body language. Use the benefits of positive body language to your advantage in preparing for a presentation. Having a higher level of confidence in yourself before presenting drives away lingering anxiety. It also helps you focus on your delivery.

The next time you feel anxious before a presentation, try the following:

Victory Pose

Experts agree that posing with expansive gestures and a widened stance increases your confidence. Taking off from Cuddy’s discussion of body language, whenever you “open up” for this pose, your testosterone levels rise, increasing your feelings of dominance and assertiveness.

On the other hand, it also reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. Before facing your audience, seek out a private space and practice your victory pose. Straighten your back and push your shoulders back while keeping your head up and raise your arms in a “V” shape.

Tense up

While it may seem counterintuitive, tensing up beforehand can actually increase your willpower. Studies show that keeping muscles firm allows you to endure pain and other unpleasant feelings longer than someone who doesn’t.

Aside from the victory pose, this technique comes in handy during an extreme case of stage fright. It will strengthen your resolve to push through with your presentation.

Cross your Arms

When you feel like you’re running out of ideas, try crossing your arms first. This gesture increases persistence and pushes you to think up better solutions to your problems.

In a study published in the European Journal of Psychology by Roy Friedman and his colleagues, university students were tested with the hypothesis. Those who crossed their arms managed to last longer through difficult anagrams. In comparison, students whose hands remained on their lap lasted for a shorter period of time. Similar to tensing up your muscles, crossing your arms is also an act of tightening, which is associated with energizing oneself.

As an example, think of how persistent a child whose arms are crossed can be against direct commands. Applying that for a positive purpose, persevere through your pre-presentation hurdles by crossing your arms. To help you last through a tough mental block for a presentation concept, cross your arms through it.

Body language isn’t just an indicator of how you feel, it can also be a catalyst in changing how you see yourself. Practice positive body language not just on your actual presentation, but also while preparing for it. You’ll be more likely to feel better about yourself and think of better ideas.

Doing a victory pose before a presentation helps you imbibe and radiate confidence to your intended audience. Tensing up during preparation allows you to withstand stress and fight your anxieties. In the same way, crossing your arms gives you the patience to come up with ideas for your presentation.

Use body language to your advantage and let it boost your self-esteem whenever you experience presentation jitters. Need help with your presentation? Contact our SlideGenius experts and get a free quote today!

Skeletons in the Closet: Bury These 5 Presentation Horrors

Even the best speakers are haunted by their bad habits. If you don’t check yourself, these negative practices will rise from their graves to wreak havoc on your presentation. Following public speaking guidelines isn’t enough.

To be truly at your best, watch out for these five presentation horrors:

1. Smiling Too Much

supporting-images_1-presentation-horrors

Smiling seems harmless enough. It helps you build rapport, while also reducing your anxiety and boosting your confidence as a speaker. However, there are instances where a smile may not be the best expression.

Discussing sensitive issues requires a somber face. A neutral expression works when you have to look professional and respectable. Familiarizing yourself with the topic helps you mark cues for the right tone and appearance at the right time.

2. Depending on Memory

supporting-images_2-presentation-horrors

Looking down at your notes can actually save you in the middle of a presentation. If you’re not yet confident with your speech, it’s okay to keep a blueprint of your piece with you. Just don’t let your notes distract you from your actual delivery.

But if you’ve already mastered your pitch and you think a script will only ruin your train of thought, then disregard any written guides. Still, there are times when you have to return to your notes. This is acceptable when you’re citing an important quote or specific reference. Just don’t do it too often. Record yourself to know when to interject with your script. Listen to the recording and figure out where you can drop these lines.

3. Overacting

supporting-images-3-Overacting-(purple)

Like oversmiling, overacting involves inappropriate movements that are otherwise helpful to your presentation. This usually happens when you try to incorporate humor. Humor engages the audience through light-hearted anecdotes. Exaggerating your body language to emphasize your jokes will definitely get a few laughs.

At the same time, check your timing as well. Tread carefully through delicate themes, especially if you want people to take what you’re saying seriously. Instead of always resorting to overacting to get attention, find different ways to convey deep emotions in your speech. For example, you can change your tone and display a variety of facial expressions instead of sticking to one.

4. Overusing Authority

supporting-images-4-presentation-horrors

As we’ve established with the earlier points, determining your presentation’s ideal tone is important. Although you have full control over your speech, you can’t abuse that authority by going too off tangent from your more main ideas. While a fun story that has nothing to do with your subject might briefly entertain the crowd, it’s also very distracting.

People won’t be able to remember your message if you keep side-tracking their focus with random information. Channel these narratives to supplement your core message. Occasionally go back to your objectives to remind your listeners about them.

5. Asking Unplanned Questions

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Some presenters will ask unplanned questions when they’re faced with unexpected problems. This is supposed to deflect tension and draw responses from people, but it only worsens the situation. Unplanned questions tend to change the subject, making things even more awkward for the speaker.

You’ll have to accept that there are different audiences in every presentation. Some are expressive, while others prefer to listen quietly with little reaction. Sometimes it’s better to go on without pleasing everyone than risk making a fool of yourself.

Speech coach Gary Genard suggests that you start by asking the right questions. Focus on those that clarify important points and give your listeners a better grasp of your topic.

Stop these Horrors from Spreading!

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Before heading onstage, check your closet for any skeletons of bad presentation practices. Identify appropriate reactions and expressions you tend to make. Trying to lighten up the mood isn’t always going to work in a situation that requires seriousness.

Having a dynamic arsenal of words and gestures at your disposal is more impressive than monotony. There’s no harm in referring to your notes in case you forget what to say next. It’s better to have a backup plan than to fumble and be unable to recover at all. You may think amusing, unrelated stories and unexpected questions will keep your audience at the edge of their seats, but it might just turn them off.

Lastly, always stick to your original plan. This is much better than trying to please everybody by veering off topic and muddying up your message. Remove all your unproductive habits for more engaging pitches you can convert into sales.

People prefer a delivery that is both palatable and informative. Practice diligently to achieve that balance. To help you with your presentation needs, let SlideGenius experts assist you!

Share this spooky infographic and save your friends from these horrors!

References

“For Public Speaking Success, Ask the Right Questions!” The Genard Method. Accessed October 22, 2015. www.genardmethod.com/blog/bid/173002/For-Public-Speaking-Success-Ask-the-Right-Questions

Tips for Expressing Natural Body Language in Presentations

The fear of public speaking is a common obstacle that hinders you from delivering effective presentations. It affects your communication skills, making you more conscious of your words and your actions.

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Exuding a confident and relaxed image is important when presenting to a crowd. According to presentation trainer Olivia Mitchell, however, speaking with confidence doesn’t only involve your pitching skills, but also your body language.

Below are tips for best expressing natural body language during your presentations:

Pace Yourself

Walking and speaking at a slower pace allow you to move calmly.

Slower movements make it easier for you to get something across without looking nervous.

They prevent you from expressing boring and unnecessary body language like scratching your face, looking at the floor, and rocking back and forth, which can seriously undermine your speech and distract your audience.

Space Everything Evenly

The amount of space on your presentation stage is as important as white space in your presentation slide.

But unlike white space, you need to fill in the spaces of the stage with your movement. Don’t stand stiffly in the center. This creates a disconnect between you and your listeners.

Showing your audience that you’re comfortable in the spotlight builds up spontaneous movement and gestures.

Free Your Hands

You can’t naturally express nonverbal cues if your hands aren’t free.

Keeping them in your pockets, holding them behind your back, and folding them across your chest hinder you from making actions that complement your presentation idea.

The most natural hand position is hanging them loosely at your sides. This gives you total freedom to move them for emphasizing points or interacting with your audience.

Relax Your Shoulders

Your business presentation is an extension of your company, just as your hands are connected to your shoulders.

All those hand and finger motions are expressed gently and naturally if your shoulders are relaxed.

Maintain a professional stance that keeps the shoulders back, your head up, and hands up front to convey confidence, reinforce your message, and engage your audience.

Conclusion

Body language communicates assertiveness, appreciation, sincerity, and more.

Using nonverbal cues appropriately isn’t enough in presentations. They should also appear natural to mark an amazing speaking presence.

Need assistance with your PowerPoint presentation slides? Contact SlideGenius and we’ll help you start your deck ASAP.

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References

Public Speaking Anxiety: Facts, Stats, and Methods to Beat It.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2014. Accessed June 11, 2015.
The 5-step Cure for Boring Body Language.” Speaking about Presenting. Accessed June 11, 2015.

Add Rhythm to Your Presentation with Hand Gestures

Gesturing comes naturally in presentations. Hand gestures are nonverbal cues that convey your enthusiasm while communicating a hidden story.

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Let’s look at four common hand movements—palm up, palm down, precision grip, and power grip.

Palm Up

Uplifted palms connote humility and sincerity. As Brad Phillips writes in Mr. Media Training, Allan and Barbara Pease’s The Definitive Book of Body Language features the positive reception of the palm-up position compared to other gestures.

Speaking with your palms up is not only useful during actual discussion but also when reaching out to your audience. This works better than pointing your finger at them for questions and opinions. Use this gesture to look appealing and friendly.

Palm Down

The palm-down cues a more domineering and assertive tone. This position is ideal in situations where something is being denied and negated. You can also use this when making a stand. To bring your audience closer to your point of view, just place your hands down, facing towards your chest. This move communicates your desire to persuade your listeners.

Precision Grip

According to body language research pioneer, Desmond Morris, the role of the precision grip is to “mark the points of emphasis in a speech.” Put the thumb and forefinger together to emphasize the points being discussed.

Use grips when stating facts, describing your argument’s delicate points, and highlighting important details.

Power Grip

A grasp or a power grip is similar to the precision grip, but it uses the whole hand, with fingers firmly spread and bent either facing to your audience or onto yourself.

The power grip is the nonverbal way of saying, “I’m holding on to something and I want you to understand it.” Use this to give your audience a better grip on a problem you’re explaining.

Your hand gestures dramatically alter how your audience listens to you. These body movements imply authority, sincerity, humility, and other emotions required to command attention.

Use these to sound confident and conversational during your presentation. With enough practice, you’ll be landing big sales with simple gestures in no time.

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References

Can You Become 56 Percent Better At Presenting–Instantly?Mr Media Training. Accessed June 2, 2015.
Morris, Desmond. “Baton Signals.” Peoplewatching. London: Vintage, 2002.
More Than Words: How to Improve Your Nonverbal Cues.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed June 2, 2015.