As a speaker and presenter, your words matter. Of course they do. But what speaks first and loudest to any audience is not your words but your body – your gestures, facial expressions, the way you move, the way you stand.
The audience will make up their minds about you before you’ve even said one word.
They read your body language, they feel your emotion, and they form a conclusion about what kind of speaker you’ll be. All of this happens in a few seconds. Audiences form a judgement about you way before you get to the substance of your message.
A human behaviour research lab did an intensive experiment on body language. Their findings centred the very popular Ted Talks: great presenters, great topics, and great tips for everyone who wants to be a better speaker.
I want to share some of the highlights, because it might cause you to rethink your non verbal communication:
1. Non verbal communication matters a lot. The study found that audience decided whether they liked a TED talk more on body language than on the actual words.
2. The more hand gestures the better. People who used fewer hand gestures, score lower on charisma.
3. Scripted speeches kill charisma. Scripted speeches are memorized and read, leaving little freedom for variety in tone, pace and pausing. Audiences found these careful presentations boring compared to those with a more spontaneous delivery.
4. Smiling makes you look smart. Smiling is still correlated to intelligence.
5. You have 7 seconds to make an impression. That’s how quickly your audience forms an impression of you. Actually I disagree. Based on what I’ve observed with audiences, you have 3 second to make an impression. That impression is all based on your body language.
At Podium we encourage speakers to let go of the script and speak more naturally. If you allow your nonverbal communication to take the lead, you will connect more strongly with your audience.
And if you speak from the heart, your hands will follow naturally.
Halina St James takes the worry out of presentations with her Present Like a Pro video training course. It’s available now from the Podium Coaching online store, together with her popular TalkitOut: From Fears to Cheers e-book and workbook.