When you’re speaking in front of an audience, your actions can speak louder than your words. Swaying, hand clasping, pacing, and other unconscious movements can distract people from your main message and communicate quite a different one, such as “I’m unprepared,” “I’m nervous,” or “I’d rather be anyplace in the whole, wide world than right here, right now!”
Spotting bad habits and adding good ones
How can you stop those habits, many of which you might not even know you’re doing? On the other side of the coin, how can you incorporate gestures and movement more into your presentation so that you convey enthusiasm and excitement?
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: record yourself while you’re presenting. These days, it’s a pretty simple thing to do. You can record your performance with a smartphone, a desktop or laptop computer or a video camera. Even better, see if a friend or colleague is willing to record you, which will enable you to move around on the stage more than if you are using a single camera.
Two ways to review your presentation
Reviewing the recording without sound lets you concentrate on the visual messages you are sending. Besides the gestures and movements I mentioned earlier, watch for instances of your turning your back on the audience to read your slides, which is another really off-putting thing to do!
To figure out what might energize your presentation, listen to the audio and ignore the video while imagining how someone else might move while presenting your speech. Write down your ideas, then watch the recording again from the beginning. Note where you might include new movements and gestures and work them into your “act.” Some gestures to consider are moving or leaning toward the audience when you want them to really take note of what you’re saying, acting out what you’re saying with your hands, and smiling.
Keep practicing, adding movement and gestures to reinforce your message and stopping the moves and gestures that convey the wrong message or which distract people from your words.
Adding video recordings to your Speaker Toolbox
Making this a regular part of your speech prep will help you to improve your public speaking and ensure that you’re getting the right message across!