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Tips for improving your gestures and body language

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According to James Borg, the author of Persuasion: The Art of Influencing People and Body Language: How to know what’s REALLY being said, 93 percent of communication is body language … only 7 percent comes from the words we choose. Therefore, successful Long Beach speakers pay attention to what their body is saying. They use their gestures strategically to emphasize their point, and they work on reducing any distracting body language.

If you want your message to be conveyed effectively, you want your movements to look so natural with what you say that no one even notices that you are using intonation and inflection or body movement as a means of emphasizing the points of your speech.

The movements you make during your speech should be strategic or at least controlled, while still naturally flowing. You don’t want your gestures to be so rehearsed that that look robotic, and you want to reduce unplanned movements that could potentially distract the audience from your point.

Distracting body language often stem from being nervous. Gestures such as

  • Clutching the podium or lectern
  • Fidgeting with clothes, pockets or jewelry
  • Fussing with your hair
  • Swaying to and fro
  • Finger tapping
  • Licking your lips
  • Frowning
  • Bobbing your head
  • Flailing arms about at inappropriate times

Without practice and preparation, you may not even know that you are doing these things. Here is a 5-step process that can help you improve your use of body language when you speak.

  1. Video record yourself giving the presentation.
  2. Watch the video without sound so you can focus on body language. Scan through the video on fast-forward so that bigger gestures stand out.
  3. Write a list of the gestures and mannerisms that are distracting.
  4. Thoughtfully practice your speech without them.
  5. Re-record yourself and keep reviewing your tapes until you are satisfied that all the distracting gestures are gone.

Other things you can do to help you improve your body language while speaking include:

Get comfortable delivering your speech. You should feel natural as you give your presentation. You should feel like you are sharing information with a long-time friend. Two things will help you accomplish this: practice and authenticity. Practicing your presentation makes it more comfortable in your body. And, when you speak from your heart, you will speak more naturally and comfortably.

Work on eliminating nervousness. As you get more familiar with your material, you’ll be less nervous. In addition, when you focus more on delivering your message, rather than on the feelings of fear and anxiety, your nerves will fade away.

Would you like more information about public speaking? Visit PublicSpeakingSuperPowers.com for tips, advice and plenty of videos about all the "powers" you can employ in your speaking endeavors.

NOTE: Are you a Long Beach based speaker? Do you know of an upcoming speaking event? Contact me to have an interview with you published in this column.

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