Saturday, June 13, 2009

The ABC's of Public Speaking - G is for Gestures

G is for Gestures

Those who are relatively new to speaking in front of an audience often are concerned about how to move about on the stage. It is very natural for speakers to be self-conscious about how the motions of their arms, hands, feet and face can emphasize the key points in their presentation.

Specific and well planned movements will express a powerful thought and help you make a lasting connection with the audience. However, stiff and awkward gestures distract from your expertise and make you appear nervous, uncomfortable and novice. When you are the center of attention, it is the whole package that is being viewed. It is not just your words, clothes, or slides that make up your presentation, it is everything that the audience can see and hear. Each movement matters.

Using your body in conjunction with your words is a learned skill. This comes easily for some people, while others need to be dedicated to becoming comfortable with their bodies while delivering a speech. Do not ignore mastering gestures, as this is a skill that will set you apart from the average speaker.

Keep your head high. Let your eyes and mouth (smile) shine through. The movement of your arms should be from the shoulders, not the wrists or elbows. Allow your hands to be open, not clinched at the fists. Even the placement of your feet and how you hold your body posture makes an impression. While all of this sounds like a lot to remember while simultaneously speaking, it becomes second nature over time.

Nothing is more important than experience when looking to master your abilities to use gestures in your presentations. When you first concentrate on how you move your body on stage you might feel as if it is forced and phony. You must realize that there are times for both small understated gestures and larger exaggerated movements. Knowing what type of meaningful gesture to use comes from practice (trial and error).

Video taping your presentation and having friends and co-workers in the audience who have been asked to watch for, and constructively critique, your gestures will help you be aware of what is working and not working in your movements.

The most important thing to remember is to be yourself. Allow your body move naturally in ways that are comfortable and fit your personality. Do not over think or force your gestures to the point that you are "in character" when giving a speech. You are a speaker, not an actor. However, be careful not to let nervousness hold yourself back from fluid natural movements.

Have A Great Day.


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