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Importance of body language in public speaking

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Self Improvement

So you have prepared for your speech. You have conducted a great research, you have poured in all your literary skills, incorporated the best relevant quotations and anecdotes and incorporated into it the information that will stun your audience. But have you thought anything about the body language and made some homework on it? Well, body language is a crucial part of the art of public speaking and you cannot be a successful public speaker if you neglect this particular area of your communication.

First of all you have to know what is actually meant by body language. Body language is actually that part of our communication, which we convey without exchanging any words. Thus body language is the non-verbal part of our communication process and it comprises of a variety of actions like batting of an eye or staring, nodding of head, gesture, stances and several facial expressions. We express out thoughts verbally, but it is the tone of our voice and body language that complement what we try to send across. As a matter of fact, majority of our feelings get expressed through our body language. When you are delivering your speech, you have to maintain an affirmative and positive body language. It becomes a helpful tool in presenting yourself in a credible manner and makes your audience concentrate on your sayings. It also helps to convey your emotions that connect you with your listeners.

We should be more cautious about our body language, because of the fact that we often send across wrong messages unintentionally through body movements that we actually did not intend to. An effective body language is one that supports what you communicate orally. So far as public speaking is concerned, an energetic presentation seems to earn greater response, whereas a lousy speaker encourages its audience to become sleepy. The dynamism of the speaker-- who makes gestures in support of his statement, makes movements on the platform, whose facial impressions change to add meaning to what he says-- is contagious and passed onto the audience. When you are on podium you have to use such body languages that complement and even enhance the significance of what you are saying. As for example, if you are referring to any estimate, use your fingers to represent the figures. The facial expression of the speaker will tell you how passionately he feels about the topic. A sincere speaker will adopt any kind of physical gesture to confirm his point. In their passion, some of the speaker even stands on the table or some of them kneel down on the platform. All these gestures establish their credibility and affirm their personal involvement with the subject.

We all use some gestures when we talk and in fact there are certain common gestural vocabularies that add more meaning to our spoken words. As for example we nod our heads when we agree with something, or point out to a distance to mean far away and so on. In case of public speaking, you have to be more animated in your gestures and how vigorous your gesture will be depends on the size of the audience and the auditorium. Suppose you are delivering speech before a small crowd, you should use small gestures, while a larger audience demands more enhanced gestures. For instance if you are using your hands to support some of your words, then move your hands from shoulder, not from the wrist. A shoulder movement will reflect on your energy as well as enhance the impact of your spoken words.

Another factor is taking the right stance. It is all about how you stand, how you walk and so on and your stance how confident or how nervous you are. An ideals stance is to stand straight with a little leaning forward.

While you are talking before a crowd, you should exhibit the extra effort and energy and that will help you to express you views more effectively. But you need practice to improve on this skill. Practice helps you to become more communicative through your body language which is a sum total of gesture, stance, and facial expression.

When you work on your body language, your ability to assess what is going inside others also increases. You will be able to read the listeners reactions to your speech.