Body Language

It is common knowledge that people perceive presentations via audial and visual channels.

Speaking about visual channels, presenters often mean slides. Significant, a slides’ role is often overestimated. Some equal the terms “slide” and “presentation”, though the latter is a broader one.

On the other hand, the role of body language is underestimated. In fact, it is of the same - sometimes even higher - importance, comparing to slides:

  • Body language affects the way listeners perceive information.
  • It helps to engage the audience.
  • It tells how confident and persuasive a presenter is.
  • It helps to highlight the idea.
  • It can nullify all efforts put into presentation.

Posture

It’s not a secret that posture bespeaks our confidence, emotional state, and intents. Proper pose will not only make a presenter look confident. His emotional state will also tend to correspond to steady posture, so this will cheer him up.

A posture should be:

1. Open. A speaker should not cross his hands or legs because the audience might perceive it as the unwillingness to communicate. Also, it’s not professional to hide behind the podium, slides, or chairs.
2. Straight. Slouch makes a presenter look worse, as well as weakens his voice. Moreover, it’s difficult to keep eye contact when you don’t stand straight.
3. Relaxed. Constrained posture complicates a presenter’s gestures and breathing.

Gestures

Gestures are among the most valuable means of expression.

  • They add or amplify the tone of speech.
  • They involve attention and feedback.
  • The can change words meaning.

Many books exist on the subject because gestures have many subtle aspects.

  • Some people have good gesture skills because it’s their natural way of communication while others don’t.
  • Some gestures have distinct meanings in different cultures.
  • It takes much time and practice to improve gesture skills.

While this topic is complex, recommendations on proper gesticulation can be found.

Gesticulation Tips:
body

1. Gestures must be open. Open gestures are those directed to an audience and find favor in their eyes.

2. Gestures must be broad. Semi-gestures are inexpressive and hard to notice. The general rule here is gestures should correlate with the size of a room and audience. Broad gestures are those from shoulders, highly expressive, and they do work with opinions, questions, and calls to action.

3. Gestures must be symmetric. The constant use of single hand seems like a presenter appeals to a half of his audience only. Symmetric gestures send a presenter’s energy to his audience.

How to Improve Gesticulation

1. Swimming. A pool can improve your gesticulation because swimming requires symmetric rhythmical flowing motions.

2. Improvised dancing. Dance at home the way you want, as it can help to put your moves at ease. It will help to gesture naturally during presentations.

3. Don’t use production gestures. They look unnatural and strange. To gesture in a natural way, one should feel what he is talking about at the moment, and gestures will adapt themselves to his tone.

A Proper Use of Auditorium Space

Moving around the presentation scene can help presenter refresh his speech, attract more attention and even make information easier to perceive.

A presenter’s moves should look natural.

  • Speak while walking. Making pauses during the movement will look strange.
  • Watch your speed. Walking too fast or too slow is acceptable, but it gives the artistic effect, so use it carefully.
  • Relax your body. And always turn to the audience to keep a contact.

Moving around the stage can help a speaker make presentations dynamic, refresh speech, and make information easier to understand.
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1-Point Scheme
A speaker would better present the key idea of his report, standing at the central point of the stage, which is the point #2. It lets him equidistant from every listener and get maximum attention.

2-Point Scheme
This scheme is optimal for comparing two things. By moving between points, a speaker presents a monolog highlighting a contrast between compared objects, techniques, states, etc.

He can move between #1 and #3 if a stage is not big. Using a central point (#2) is also acceptable if it supports a winning object because a central point is perceived as a more advantageous one.

Example:

Products A and B must be compared. Both products have two pros and cons. Here’s a sample sequence of comparison, using the 2-point scheme:

ProductWhat is presentedPoint of Scene
AAdvantage 1#1
ADisadvantage 1#2
BAdvantage 1#2
BDisadvantage 1#1
AAdvantage 2#1
ADisadvantage 2#2
BAdvantage 2#2
BDisadvantage 2#1

3-Point Scheme

Structure of and presentations can be used for the 3-point scheme.

The main part of presentation should be divided into 3 points. It applies to the following types of presentation structure:

  • Deductive
  • Inductive
  • Chronological
  • Extensional order

According to this scheme, every time period, location, option, or part of structure should be presented from a different point at the stage. This easy-to-apply scheme will portion the information and make it easier to acquire.