To deliver a terrific presentation, professional speakers must possess confidence in their public speaking abilities, subject matter, and control over their body language. Effective use of body language in public speaking is crucial for speakers to engage their audience and leave a lasting impact. This article explores the significance of body language as a vital component of public speaking and highlights ten practical ways to enhance your skills in this area.

What is Body Language?

Body language refers to the nonverbal means of communication that public speakers employ to convey their thoughts, emotions, and intentions. Public speaking requires verbal prowess and communicating messages effectively through nonverbal cues.

Through gestures, postures, facial expressions, and other physical movements, speakers can communicate information about themselves to their audience. These actions can either be conscious or subconscious, influencing the audience’s opinion about the speaker and his presentation.

Effective use of body language involves being mindful of one’s gestures, postures, and facial expressions and using them purposefully to convey confidence, enthusiasm, and authenticity. In short, a speaker who can skillfully use body language as a tool can significantly enhance their delivery and ensure that their message resonates with their audience.

The following article will help you to improve your body language during public speaking.

10 Rules for Improving Your Body Language in Public Speaking

The use of body language can make or break a presentation, as it can convey both positive and negative signals to the audience. Therefore, speakers must hone their body language skills to engage and captivate their audience. By implementing the below-mentioned tips, speakers can improve their body language and enhance their public speaking abilities.

1. Have a Correct Posture

Good posture makes you look confident and in control. When you stand up straight with your shoulders back, you appear more self-assured and authoritative, which can help you convey your message effectively. It enables you to look and sound confident, reduces physical strain, and enhances your ability to communicate your message clearly and emphatically.

Adopting a strong and poised posture helps you enhance your ability to captivate your audience and confidently deliver your message as a public speaker. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

So, to make a lasting impression on your audience, maintain a calm but attentive posture while performing. Powerful poses convey confidence and authority and enhance one’s overall appearance. 

Here are a few public speaking tips to have an upright body posture while speaking:

  • Try to place your feet shoulder-width apart. While speaking, tilt your body towards the audience so they feel included. 
  • Your hands should remain by your sides. So that you can make hand gestures freely wherever required.
  • Keep your posture open and straight.

Pro Tip: Power posing is essential for projecting confidence, maintaining good health, and making a good impression on your audience.

2. Keep Eye Contact

Maintaining eye contact can help you build a connection with your audience and make them feel more appreciated. This will nudge them to respect and listen to you because you make them feel important. 

Eye contact is a powerful tool for delivering an impressive and effective presentation. It is essential for creating a connection, projecting confidence, keeping them engaged, and allowing them to give feedback. 

The prompt scanning technique allows you to interact with various audience members, making them feel acknowledged and included in your presentation. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

While looking at everyone in the audience may be challenging, you can scan the seated people as part of audience engagement. 

Pro Tip: Using a zigzag pattern is one effective technique for maintaining eye contact while addressing a large audience. It involves starting from the left side of the back row and gradually moving your gaze to the right while including the center and front rows in your sequence. By repeating this pattern, you can make eye contact with a more significant portion of the audience and ensure that everyone feels engaged and included in your presentation.

Remember to hold eye contact for a few seconds before moving on to the next person, and vary your pace and tone of voice to keep your audience’s attention throughout your presentation.

3. Use Hand Gestures

Utilizing hand gestures is an effective way to enhance your presentation skills. It will make your message more engaging and memorable. 

Employing purposeful gestures can create a more impactful and engaging presentation that captures and maintains your audience’s attention while effectively conveying your message. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Check out some of the tips on how to use hand gestures effectively:

  • Keep your hands visible and above your waist to ensure your audience can see your gestures.
  • Coordinate your hand gestures with your speech to emphasize key points. For example, when you say miniature or dwarf, you can use your fingers to denote it. 
  • While conveying different emotions, use your hand movements to emphasize your points
  • Your hand gestures should be natural and flow with your speech. Avoid deliberately using them in a way that feels uncomfortable.

Pro Tip: Excessive use of hand gestures can be counterproductive, as it may distract the audience or come across as unnecessary. Instead of adding to the impact of your message, using too many hand gestures can have the opposite effect and undermine the effectiveness of your delivery. 

Therefore, it is important to use hand gestures strategically, focusing on those that enhance the meaning and importance of your words. By using hand gestures, you can make a more effective and engaging presentation that holds your audience’s attention and effectively conveys your message.

4. Have a Clear Speech

Clear speech is crucial because it allows the speaker to communicate his message to the audience effectively. Stammering and mumbling are signs of nervousness and lack of confidence. 

Let’s check out the importance of clear speech:

When your speech is clear and concise, it enhances your credibility and increases the likelihood that your audience will receive and remember your message. Pic Courtesy: Freepik
  • When the speaker enunciates each word clearly and articulately, the audience can easily follow along and grasp the content of the public speech.
  • By speaking clearly and with conviction, the speaker can hold the audience’s attention and keep them engaged throughout the speech.
  • The clear speech demonstrates that they know the subject and have taken the time to prepare for the address.
  • A clear speech can build the speaker’s credibility. The audience will be likely to view the speaker as credible and trustworthy.

Pro Tip: Confident and professional delivery of your message is critical to attracting an audience and establishing a positive reputation. You can capture your listeners’ attention and leave a lasting impression by projecting confidence and professionalism while speaking. 

It helps you gain credibility and respect as a speaker and makes your message more likely to be well-received and remembered. Therefore, developing strong communication skills and practicing effective delivery techniques is essential to ensure you can convey your message with confidence and professionalism.

5. Voice Modulation, Pausing, and Pacing

Mastery of voice modulation is a valuable skill that can help highlight important points and make your speech more engaging. Along with modulation, the strategic use of pauses can also be a powerful tool in public speaking. By incorporating breaks at strategic points, you can create a sense of anticipation and allow your audience to absorb your message.

Additionally, varying the pace of your speech can also be an effective technique for creating a dynamic and exciting speech.

Through skillful modulation, you can vary your voice’s pitch, tone, and volume to emphasize key ideas, evoke emotions, and maintain a dynamic delivery. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

 By slowing down to emphasize a point or speeding up to convey urgency or excitement, you can keep your audience engaged and create a sense of momentum that drives your message forward. In summary, incorporating these techniques into your public speaking can help you become a more effective and engaging communicator.

Few speakers also enroll themselves in speaking classes or public speaking courses. Executive speech coaching online class is also one of the options for upgrading your skills to perform in your next presentation. 

Pro Tip: Listen to popular speakers on Ted Talks. Please note their voice modulation, pacing, and pausing techniques. By varying your tone and using these techniques, you can create a more engaging and dynamic speech that effectively conveys your message and captures the audience’s attention.

6. Steady Your Nerves

One of the most effective body language tips for public speaking is to steady your nerves by maintaining relaxed breathing. Doing so lets you keep your nerves in check and project a powerful, confident voice throughout your presentation. 

The practice of taking deep breaths during your speech can help you relax and center yourself, reducing nervousness and promoting a sense of calm. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Proper breathing techniques also allow you to pause or stop speaking when necessary and help you modulate your voice and pitch to convey your message effectively. It can be helpful to take a few deep breaths before speaking and focus on the present moment to calm your nerves and stay centered. 

Pro Tip: Slow breathing and tactical pauses in the speech will help calm your nerves.

7. Physical Delivery

While speaking in public, your voice and whole body convey your emotions, thought process, and message. Physical delivery is like expressing an inner situation that can be felt and seen from the outside through your body language. 

Through skillful modulation, you can vary your voice’s pitch, tone, and volume to emphasize key ideas, evoke emotions, and maintain a dynamic delivery. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Here are some tips for practical physical delivery in public speaking:

  • Have control over unnecessary body movements.
  • Use facial expressions to convey your emotions and enthusiasm. Avoid looking bored or disinterested.
  • Be relaxed, but at the same time, be alert. The upright posture on stage will convey the right impression to your audience.
  • Hold your head up and keep your shoulders stretched. It will help you look confident and authoritative.

Pro Tip: Practice before a mirror or in the presence of a friend to become more comfortable and confident. The speaker’s body language should be natural and authentic.

8. Be Empathetic

Empathy can profoundly impact your body language during public speaking. It is a sure-shot tip to improve your body language during public speaking. It allows you to bond with your audience meaningfully, adjust your body language to better reflect your message, and ultimately deliver a more impactful and effective presentation.

Developing an empathetic mindset fosters self-awareness and a deeper understanding of your body language.
Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Empathy allows you to connect with your audience on a deeper level and understand their needs, concerns, and perspectives. It also allows you to tailor your body language to better reflect their needs and interests and convey your message more compellingly and engagingly.

Adopting an empathetic mindset can also help you develop greater self-awareness and a more nuanced understanding of your body language. It can help you identify any unconscious behaviors or habits that may detract from your message, enabling you to adjust your body language to reflect your intentions better and connect with your audience.

Pro Tip: Empathy is about understanding and connecting with your audience, not necessarily agreeing with them. Incorporating empathy into your public speaking can create a more engaging and impactful presentation.

9. Use Facial Expressions

Your facial expression can be considered a screen that displays your emotions and helps you connect with your audience. When you speak in public, your face is one of the most essential tools for communicating your message and engaging your listeners. Effective facial expressions convey many emotions and create a powerful connection with your audience.

For example, a smile can convey warmth and friendliness, while a furrowed brow can indicate concern or seriousness. Eye contact can also be a powerful tool for connecting with your audience and expressing emotions such as sincerity, confidence, or enthusiasm.

Instead of using facial expressions deliberately and strategically, letting your natural facial expressions shine through during public speaking is important. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Avoid using your facial expressions deliberately and strategically. They may break the connection with your audience. By remembering these tiny tips, you can enhance your public speaking skills and become a more effective communicator.

Check out some valuable tips for facial expressions in public speaking:

  • Use Eyebrows: Use your eyebrows to express surprise, concern, or skepticism. 
  • A Big No for Blank Faces: A blank expression will make you appear dull, detached, and dispassionate. 
  • Nod Your Head: Nod your head to show agreement with your audience. 
  • Raise Your Eyebrows: To express shock or confusion.
  • Frown: To depict concern, anger, or displeasure
  • Smile: While sharing a happy story or communicating with the audience. 

Pro Tip: Sync your expressive face with the tone and content of your speech. Your facial expressions should be natural and authentic. Do not wear a poker face for your excellent presentation. 

10. Dress Appropriately

Establishing a positive first impression is crucial when delivering a public speech, and one way to achieve this is by dressing appropriately for your audience and the occasion. Your clothing can help you create a sense of credibility and professionalism while also allowing your audience to connect with the purpose and tone of your speech.

A smart Caucasian woman wearing a black formal attire, showcasing what to wear to a conference
Choosing appropriate attire that aligns with the setting and audience is crucial to public speaking.
Pic Courtesy: Freepik

It’s important to select clothing appropriate for the setting and audience. For example, if you deliver a speech to a corporate audience, wearing business attire such as a suit or dress may be relevant. Alternatively, if you are providing a speech to a more casual audience, you may opt for more relaxed attire that reflects the event’s tone.

Ultimately, the key is to select clothing that aligns with the purpose and goals of your speech while also allowing you to establish credibility and connect with your audience. By dressing appropriately, you can create a positive first impression and set the tone for a successful and engaging presentation.

Have a look at a few tips to remember while dressing appropriately for public speaking:

  • For a corporate event, wear a formal dress or suit. 
  • Dress in a comfortable way that allows you to move freely. 
  • Do not pick too tight, too loose, or restrict movement. Go with which fits you best. 
  • Do not wear flashy, revealing, or distracting clothes. Your purpose is to convey a message, not to become an object. 
  • Ensure to iron your clothes, polish your shoes, and groom your hair and nails. 

Pro Tip: Click here for a Comprehensive Guide On What To Wear To A Conference For Men & Women.

Why are Verbal Cues and Nonverbal Signals Important?

Verbal cues are the spoken words and vocal elements, including tone, pitch, and speed, used to communicate a message. 

On the other hand, nonverbal signals include body language, use of objects, posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact. 

The combination of both expresses our thoughts, feelings, and intentions. It also expresses emotions, enhances understanding, builds rapport with the audience, avoids misunderstanding, and navigates social situations. 

Check out the importance of verbal cues and nonverbal cues:

  • It can help resolve conflicts and de-escalate tense situations. 
  • It can help establish trust and build relationships with the audience.
  • It can also emphasize specific points and make them more memorable.
  • It can provide clues about a speaker’s feelings and help us interpret their message more accurately.

The human face is an essential tool for communication skills to understand the subtle clues for the underlying motives of great presenters. 

Avoid Common Body Language Mistakes

When it comes to body language in public speaking, certain behaviors should be avoided to ensure effective communication and maintain a strong connection with your audience. Pic Courtesy: Freepik

Our words and body language must synergize with one another. Body language broadly varies from person to person. A few negative body language is specific and needs special supervision or training to work on them. However, speakers tend to commit some common body language mistakes. Let’s have a look and discuss it elaborately:

  • Rubbing your palms together: This motion may indicate that you are feeling too cold or may display your nervousness. While delivering a speech, it may create distance between you and your audience. Instead, keep an open stance. 
  • Crossing your arms: A crossed arms posture reflects that you are rushing to end a meeting immediately. It also shows that you are aloof, unenthusiastic, or hostile towards the audience. Concurrently, if you find some of your audience members leaning back and crossing their arms, it’s time to wrap up your speech soon. 
  • Shrinking your body: Presenters who are submissive and demure are more likely to shrink their bodies. The cocoon stance with lowered heads and hunched shoulders tells your audience you are submissive or lack confidence. It also conveys ineptitude and insecurity, gradually pushing your audience to lose trust in your abilities. You can avoid this by keeping your head and chin up and standing erect. 
  • Fidgeting: You may become nervous about performing in front of higher authorities if they are in the audience. If your limbs are shaky, then it undermines your message and reputation. You can overcome this habit by practicing in the presence of close loved ones or front of a mirror.
  • Exaggerated gestures: Avoid unnecessarily smiling, touching your face, leaning wrongfully, or itching anywhere while speaking. These gestures will give wrong signals and may decrease your credibility.

Key takeaway

One key takeaway from public speaking is to upgrade your body language. Positive body language is nonverbal behavior conveying much information about the speaker’s confidence, sincerity, and authority. Body language can help a speaker connect with the audience, communicate their message more effectively, and make a lasting impression.

Since most of our movements and body language are done unconsciously, it can be challenging to eliminate long-standing habits. However, it would help if you also learned how to comprehend body language to master the art of public speaking. Thus, consistent practice is the key to success and the quickest path to having confident body language, just as with any other skill.

To adopt the correct body language, you can start by maintaining a good posture, direct eye contact, and using hand gestures appropriately. It’s also important to be aware of your facial expressions, as they can convey a range of emotions that either enhance or detract from your message. In addition, you can work on your tone of voice and overall delivery to create a more engaging and professional presentation.

Overall, upgrading your body language can help you become a more effective public speaker and increase your ability to connect with your audience.

Meanwhile, if you’re a speaker, we hope you found this helpful article. You can also register yourself on Eventible’s Gazebo Speaker Directory as a speaker. You can fill out this Google form to get started. If you are an organizer, this platform will help you find passionate and experienced people to speak at your next event. 

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