How Positive Body Language Improves Your Public Speaking Becoming a master of public speaking requires more than just effectively using your voice.

By Don Weber

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Public speaking is an art that involves more than just vocal delivery. One crucial element to master is body language, which refers to the nonverbal signals conveyed to the audience through facial expressions, gestures and posture.

The role of body language in public speaking is critical, as it significantly influences how the audience perceives the speaker and their message. Positive body language can captivate the audience, build trust and credibility and ultimately enhance the effectiveness of the speech. Negative body language can undermine a speaker's message and cause the audience to disengage or lose interest.

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Your Confidence as a Public Speaker

In this article, we'll explore multiple ways to enhance your public speaking through body language, including tips for connecting with your audience that will elevate your personal confidence. With these techniques, you can deliver a powerful and engaging presentation that leaves a lasting impression.

Practice makes perfect

There are many effective suggestions for connecting to an audience through body language. Examples include holding eye contact, maintaining open postures, or staying as close to your audience as possible.

While implementing these body language cues can be effective, there is certainly a catch.

According to Psychology Today's Nick Morgan, one study revealed that students who slouched while solving math problems performed better than those who sat up straight. Researchers concluded that more relaxed students had more brain cycles available than those who sat upright.

"What this research suggests is that focusing on body language with your conscious mind—activity normally left to the unconscious mind—may take some brain cycles away from thinking about the content of your speech, or anything else, for that matter," writes Morgan.

"Your conscious mind can handle something like 40 bps of information. That's not very much, and so normally, most of the important work of keeping you going, walking, talking and chewing gum falls to your unconscious mind, which can handle something like 11 million bps. If that unconscious mind operated in such a way as to cause you to naturally adopt a certain pose before you spoke and then stay open and close to your audience while speaking, you wouldn't have to think about it (consciously), and public speaking would be a little easier."

These findings suggest that practice is absolutely required to implement positive body positions and movement into your presentations naturally. To truly integrate positive body language into your speeches, you need to practice in a space that allows you to move around as you would on stage. This means finding a room or area where you have enough space to walk and gesture freely, just as you would during a real presentation.

Practice will help you become more comfortable and confident in your movements on stage, allowing you to focus more on your content and delivery during the actual presentation.

Related: How to Tell If Someone Is Manipulating You Based on Their Body Language

Facial expressions

As you practice implementing specific body language cues into your presentations, pay attention to your facial expressions. Your face is the primary tool for conveying emotion and conveying the sincerity of your message. Facial expressions can help the audience understand the tone of your speech and connect with your message on an emotional level.

It's essential to be aware of your facial expressions throughout your speech. If you have a monotonous expression or look disinterested, your audience may perceive your speech as dull or unengaging. On the other hand, if you have an overly expressive or exaggerated expression, it may come off as insincere or forced.

One way to practice your facial expressions is by recording yourself during practice sessions. This will give you a better idea of how you come across to your audience and help you adjust your expressions accordingly.

During the actual presentation, try to make eye contact with different audience members and vary your expressions based on the tone of your speech. If you're conveying a serious message, use a serious expression and if you're delivering a humorous anecdote, try to smile or use a light-hearted expression.

Power poses

One popular method of improving body language is through power poses. Power poses refer to standing or sitting in certain positions that are believed to promote confidence, assertiveness and dominance.

The idea of power poses gained widespread attention after a TED Talk by social psychologist Amy Cuddy in 2012. Cuddy claimed that adopting power poses before a stressful event, such as a job interview or presentation, could increase testosterone levels, decrease cortisol levels and improve performance. However, Cuddy's claims were later challenged by other researchers who could not replicate her results.

Related: 10 Public Speaking Tips I Learned After My TED Talk

This dispute led to a heated debate about the effectiveness of power poses. While the scientific evidence on power poses is mixed, many individuals still find them helpful in boosting confidence and reducing anxiety before a presentation.

Consider experimenting with power poses and find out if they work for you. There are many power poses to choose from, including the Wonder Woman pose, the Superman pose and the Victory pose.

Choose poses that feel natural and comfortable to you and observe if there are any changes in your confidence. If confidence increases, consider using these poses both before and during a presentation.

Don Weber

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Soft Skills and Communication Expert and Coach

Dr. Weber is an expert business communication trainer and uses his extensive background in human behavior, psychology and meditation to help his clients more effectively communicate with their teams, enhance their public speaking skills and improve relationships with prospective clients.

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