Body Language, And Other Public Speaking Essentials

By Gary Beavers


Every public speaker has to keep in mind that it isn't just a speech that is being given. Someone is giving it. You. No one can avoid portraying themselves in some way during a public speech. Even doing nothing but standing and reading words still shows one style (a dull one). Perk up your body language and delivery and you can wow them every time.

It's possible to go overboard analyzing the meaning behind every gesture. But it's still true that the way you move, the gestures you use and the way your voice projects says something. You want that something to add to the speech, to keep it engaging for the audience. Fortunately, you don't have to be a professional actor or take years of lessons to develop the needed skills. A little common sense and a fair amount of practice will take you far.

One of the most important elements to good delivery is to project confidence. That comes more easily to some than to others. But it's important for all public speakers. A figure of authority is accepted as one and confidence is one of the best ways to convey that.

A certain amount of nervousness is natural, especially for beginners. But even experienced speakers will sometimes have a little bit of stage fright before a speech. For some, the feeling never goes away completely no matter how many speeches they deliver.

Not to worry. Just focus on the speech and the audience and not on your internal state. Keep your concentration on the job at hand and any feelings of fear you do experience will not interfere with your delivery.

Move about the stage if you can. Avoid simply standing behind a podium like a cardboard cutout. You don't want your movements to distract, but a little motion keeps the audience following you. It also gives you a chance to observe whether they're paying attention. As you watch the audience you can note whether they're watching you intently, or drifting off.

Whether you inject humor, personal anecdote or keep the speech light will depend on the occasion. Most speeches will give you the opportunity to inject some meaningful story that helps you make the point. But match your body language and your voice to the style of the story, and the speech overall.

Some subjects don't lend themselves readily to lighthearted humor. War, child abuse and other topics are most often taken seriously, and appropriately so. Matching your movements and gestures, and especially your tone of voice to the subject will create an integrated delivery. Talking about a subject the audience finds very personal and serious by cracking jokes will jar them. It will tend to alienate them. You want your movements and voice to help you keep them on your side and listening attentively.

Project well, make sure they can hear and see you at all times. Match your tone and movements to the subject. Appear the expert on the subject you are by your voice and body language. You'll have them in the palm of your hand, hanging on every word.




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