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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.

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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.

Let us handle the designs, while you can practice on your delivery!

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4 Things to Avoid in Order to Gain Respect During a Presentation

Making a positive, memorable impression is an enormous aspect of professional presentations. However, when we’re up on stage–under the magnifying glass–we might not be cognizant of how we’re being perceived by the audience. Here’s a few very common tendencies people tend to fall into without realizing, and ironically these are often done as an attempt to be more likable and relatable.

 

1. Don’t Make Jokes at the Expense of Others

This is a very commonly used ploy to win over the majority of the crowd at the expense of its minority. However, anyone who’s respect you want will see through this. It’s a cheap trick you should not stoop down to. Humor is a great tool during a speech, but either make it constructive, or even better, make yourself the butt of the joke. As long as you’re not too harsh on yourself, this is a great way to be relatable to the audience.

 

2. Don’t Dumb Yourself Down

If you’re attempting to come off as more colloquial or conversational, be careful not to take it too far. Sure, you don’t want to be rigid or robotic, but talking to an audience the way you talk to your friends on a Saturday night won’t score you any points. dumb_a

This is a fine line to balance. You may have an intensely technical background, and you might have to present on a complex topic that goes along the same lines. In this case, where you might have to actually simplify your ideas a great deal in order to relate them to your audience, it’s important to be very cautious aobut the tone you’re using. As we all know, nothing is quite so infuriating as being spoken to like a five year old. Keep in mind that you’re presenting to a room full of professional, of fully grown adults who deserve to be spoken to as such. Don’t dumb down. Simplify.

 

3. Don’t show off with your vocabulary

On the contrary, don’t try to dazzle your audience with your faux-intellect by using as big of words as possible when showing your PowerPoint slides. Presenting is about communication and relating to your audience. Using unnecessary language might distract or confuse, and you’ll likely come off as obnoxious.

 

4. Don’t Fidget Nervouslywoody-allen

No one wants to watch Woody Allen squirm nervously on stage while when they’re looking to gain meaningful information in a business setting. Most likely if you don’t think about your posture, body movements and posture, then they’re probably not working toward your advantage. Make sure your movements are slow, meaningful and deliberate. The confidence you’ll exude in doing so will go a long way.

 

If you can’t tell what the overarching theme with all of this is, it’s that you should present yourself as well as possible, but don’t falsify your image because your audience will see right through it. Be yourself, but make sure you’re being the best version of yourself possible.

How to Make Your First Impression Count in the Business World

You don’t get a redo with a flubbed first impression, especially in the modern business world defined by a hyper-fast pace and short attention span.

We meet new faces every day, and you can’t downplay the importance of these first impressions, especially with an important contact or a corporate presentation. Because of the pressure and importance associated with first impressions, it’s easy to become nervous or over think the situation, but paying attention to a few basic concerns about your behavior and physical appearance can help you relax and make a memorable impression.

Whether you’re meeting someone face to face or engaging a group of people, knowing what cues will cause others to form opinions about you in less than 10 seconds can be the difference between success and failure.

Physical appearance

first impression

This may seem shallow, but your physical appearance and your body language will be the two key factors in how you will first be perceived by others, and keep in mind that the bulk of the first impression will be made in seven seconds, and that impression is unlikely to ever change.

Dress with care, it’s a sign of competency and attention to detail to others, but be wary not to overdress for the occasion. That can also show incompetency–even insensitivity. Furthermore, while it’s important to show individuality, creativity, and originality through your appearance, don’t go overboard, especially in a professional setting. Find out the appropriate dress code (i.e. casual, formal) and craft your creativity within that context. Also, making sure you’re well groomed and appropriately dressed can give you the boost of confidence you need if you’re walking into a situation that may make you a little apprehensive.

Remain open, confident, and relaxed

Your body language can say a lot about your personality and attitude as well, so it’s important to give off a positive, open vibe through your gestures, posture, and body language.

Good posture and a firm handshake will show confidence and assertiveness, which are too highly valued qualities in the business world. Conversely, slouching can be a sign of lack of self esteem and low energy.

Confidence is key to being taken seriously, but appearing open and friendly can’t be undervalued. Your body should face the person you’re speaking to. To ensure the person that you’re giving them your full attention, maintain eye contact, and don’t glance at your watch, phone, or what other people in the room might be doing.

Knowing what not to do is just as important. We all have nervous habits that we begin doing unconsciously. While we may not even be aware of these habits, such as biting our fingernails, crossing and uncrossing our legs, or touching our hair and face, others are, and becoming aware of and controlling these habits is imperative in order to present yourself effectively.

While this may seem like a hefty list of things to be conscious of, the most important tip is simply to be confident, because the majority of these techniques of good-impression making are just symptoms of confidence.

Body Movement in your Presentation; How to Make it or Break it

Would you deem it appropriate for Obama to give his State of the Union address while sitting in a “chris-cross-applesauce” position? No, you would not. That is because you know that he would look childish, immature, unprofessional, and similar to how I sat in elementary school.  Body language dictates how we are perceived in any situation. On a very base, subconscious level, and this goes double when we’re in front of an audience, body language can make or break what people think of us and what we are saying in a matter of seconds. When all eyes are on you, your movements, posture and body language carry more gravity than usual, so each requires even more attention on your part.

Most studies find that verbal communication makes up less than 10 percent of all human communication, while nonverbal communication (i.e. body language, eye contact, etc.) makes up roughly 55 percent of communications. Here are a few tips to guarantee your body is portraying the message that aligns with your professional presentation.

 

Face your audience head on

Take a power stance: Square your shoulders to the direction of the audience and plant your feet far enough apart to be sturdy and balanced. However, if you’ve ample space when presenting, utilize it. Facing your audience head on doesn’t mean becoming a statue. Make it a deliberate point to move from point to point while you speak. This will give you a more vibrant, commanding presence that will demand attention from your audience.

Steve Jobs at an Apple presentation
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs utilizes his large floor space while remaining open to the audience.

Eye contact

Eye contact is a pivotal part of communication in Western culture. The unspoken understanding is that when a person avoids eye contact, it’s because they’re lying or nervous. When presenting, eye contact is vital in order to ensure your audience trusts the validity of what you’re saying.

A good trick is to pick out three people in the audience: one in the center of the audience, one in the left corner, and one in the right corner; Alternate between them.

Some will tell you all you need to do is pick a few spots on the back wall of the room, but the problem here is that you’re not actually connecting with anyone, and that can make the presentation feel insincere or inhuman. Eye contact is vital for making a connection with your audience.

Never underestimate the importance of good posture

Superman having great posture wearing a cape
Superman, the epitome of cape wearers and good posture, has the puffed-out chest and arched back.

An upright, open posture can signify success, confidence, honesty, positivity, vibrancy—the list is practically endless. The point is: have good posture. If you often catch yourself slouching, try standing and walking as if you were wearing a cape; that’ll give you a good idea of how you should be standing.

Posture is especially important when presenting, because it’s directly correlated to being perceived as confident. Your audience doesn’t want to listen to someone who doesn’t appear to be resolute in the message he or she is presenting.

While having a well-designed PowerPoint presentation from a PowerPoint specialist can go a long way in creating a clear, convincing professional presentation, there’s no substitute for confidence. Body language can reveal a lot about a person, and when correctly mastered, can do a great deal to ensure a lasting impression on others. The most important thing is to relax, remain open, and be comfortable in your own skin.