Leverage Your Body to Project More Commitment
How you handle your body can send an important message to your audience about your knowledge of the topic you are discussing or your overall comfort with speaking in front of others. Allowing nervousness to consume you often sends a signal that you are ill-prepared and can reduce your credibility with the audience. Before every presentation, speech, or talk with an audience, take the time to consider your body position, how you will stand, what movements you can make with your arms and hands to emphasize your message, and what areas of tension you may need to calm during your talk. There are key body areas you should consider and their impact they can have on your communication effectiveness. The interpersonal skills coaches at Speakeasy recommend doing weekly impromptu speech practices, recording yourself speak, and using this as a way to gauge how to adjust your body language to convey a sense of authority and commitment.
- Relax your head, neck, and throat muscles. Having your head and neck feel relaxed gives the flexibility to your mouth and jaw muscles to move and to enable you to clearly enunciate your words. If these areas are tense, your words may sound stilted, your jaw may quiver, and you may even begin to sweat. As you prepare for an important talk, practice centering and leveling your head in front of a mirror. Notice the change in the neck and throat muscles as your head becomes centered. Eventually, you’ll be able to feel the difference and correct it without seeing it in a mirror. Consciously monitor the position of your head when you’re listening to others, whether standing or sitting. Each time you speak in front of a group, make a conscious effort to pause, breathe, center and level your head before you begin.
- Position your shoulders. A comfortable and well-aligned posture are essential to relieving excess tension in your upper body and can help you stand tall and confident. Holding your shoulders too far back or up creates excess torso tension and forces your weight further back on your heels. This makes you look physically rigid, and it makes it more difficult for you to reach out and connect with your audience. Releasing this tension will allow your weight to come forward, making it easier for you to project a sense of commitment physically.
- Correct your hip placement. Your hip position can play a role in how your shoulders are placed. If you stand with your hips tilted or pushed forward, your upper body will collapse. To correct this slouched posture, many speakers will pull their shoulders up or back, which can make them look physically uncomfortable. However, if you change the position of your hips, this eliminates the slouch without tightening your shoulders. In turn, your body stays centered and aligned without shoulder tension and rigidity. This makes it easier to express energy and commitment physically. If you are seated, your hip placement is equally important as it will help you maintain a comfortable posture. Make sure your back is firmly placed against the chair and your head, shoulder, and hips are all centered.
Getting physically involved when you speak and involving your whole body, will make you more believable and exciting. With practice, using your body in this way will begin to feel more natural. To look and feel genuinely committed to your message, be sure to focus your energy on one person in the audience, at a time and project your voice forward to that person. Maintain consistent and friendly eye contact as you deliver your message. To emphasize your points and to make your talk more dynamic and authentic, use your whole upper body, including your mouth and torso, not just your arms. You can make facial expressions, smile, and move around, signaling to the audience that you are committed to conveying a message and are an authority that should be heard.
If you feel that you would benefit from either a communication refresher or a more comprehensive business communication skills program, Speakeasy has a host of offerings to help you reach your goals. Click here to see what session may be the best fit for your interpersonal communication needs.