Lesson 20º








Body Language

As I mentioned in the previous lesson, besides verbal language there is also body language (movements, gestures, attitudes, etc) all of which you are usually not conscious of, nor know how they work.

Through body language, the speaker transmits messages: nerves, shyness, security, confidence, enthusiasm, doubts, etc.

From the moment you get to the stage, your hand movements, facial expressions, posture, movements on the stand, eye contact, etc are all transmitting different messages.

The audience captures all of these things clearly.

Sometimes these messages are the opposite to what the speaker is trying to communicate with his/her verbal language.

For example, the president of the company is telling his employees what most worries him is their wellfare, but througout the speech he does not look once at his employees.

The best way to perceive this body language is to tape it on video.

A lot of us will be surprised: nervous tics, restless hands that don't stop moving, contrary gestures, looks towards the ceiling, unyielding attitude, etc.

Therefore, given its importance in relation to communication, it is an aspect that you need to work on in the rehearsals.

From the moment you go up onto the stand you should be able to use this body language in a positive way, providing a connexion with the public, re-inforcing your image.

You have to transmit serenity and naturalness, avoiding gestures, attitudes or movements that show the contrary.

You have to get on the stage with confidence, calmly (speed denotes nervousness and insecurity).

During the speech it is a good idea to move around the stage, don't remain in one place, but control the movements, avoiding strolling without reason. Movement breaks monotomy and helps to capture the public's attention.

If the speech is read you can not move around at all, but you should maintain a comfortable posture, up right, although try to be natural and not forced, without clutching the stand (feeling of insecurity).

If the speaker is seated he should try to sit up with the aim of enhancing his figure so that he doesn't look lost behind the table (visual contact is fundamental to establish a communication with the public).

If it is possible (for example in a class room) it is advisable to move between the audience, help break distances, transmiting an image of closeness.

You have to try and get over your shyness, as this transmits insecurity and makes the connection with the public difficult.

Your facial expressions should be relaxed: a smile serves to win over the public, whilst a stiff expression provokes rejection.

The hand movements should be rehearsed. Hands that don't stop moving giving off a bad impression, as do hands that don't move.

The movements should be elegant. The hands should be used to emphasize what you are saying, so that your voice and gestures are coordinated, underlining the crucial points of the speech.

The very situation of the speaker on the stage also transmits subliminal messages:

Standing up, in the centre of the stage: authority.

Sitting down, on one side of the stage: more relaxed attitude, less solemn.