Body Language

     Why is it that some speakers hold your attention with no effort at all while others made you work to stay awake? Some make you feel like the most important person in the audience, while others look like they wish they were anyplace else but here.

     Unfortunately, many people feel that speaking in public is like walking barefoot on hot coals. You can actually see their discomfort. They can't stand still. They're constantly shifting their balance from one foot to the other, like marching in place.

     For others, standing in front of an audience is like facing a firing squad. They plant themselves on a spot and freeze, afraid to move an inch or they might get shot. Or they hide behind the lectern or podium, afraid to come out from behind its protective shield to get closer to their listeners.

     Then there are those who seem perfectly comfortable, but they can't figure out where to put their hands. They lean on the podium, fiddle with their glasses, juggle their slide pointer, run their hands through their hair, hitch up their slacks, scratch an itch, cough, blink, and display other mannerisms which only distract you from hearing what they're saying. You're hypnotized by all the nervous movements they've brought along with their speech.

     How you use your body and your hands is a major element of being a unique and sexy speaker. The audience will focus on what you're saying if you seem confident, sure of yourself and happy to be there for the next 20-30 minutes. Here are some basic techniques that'll make you look and feel cool and competent, no matter what's going on inside.

     Before you start to speak, take three deep breaths and look the audience in the eye. Move your head from left to right and back again, taking in everyone seated before you. Smile. Choose three people to speak directly to, one on the left, center and right. These are your guideposts to make sure you'll always make eye contact with the whole audience.

     If you're using a lectern or podium, settle your notes comfortably before you start. If you're using a slide clicker, hold it gently, don't squeeze it to death. Remember not to lean on the podium. You can use one hand to gesture while the other rests on it lightly if you like. Keep smiling.

     When you're preparing and rehearsing your speech ahead of time, find a few appropriate moments to move away from the lectern and speak directly to the audience. Move as close to them as you comfortably can. Keep your eyes on them as you make your key point, bending your elbows gently as you gesture to emphasize your key phrases. Don't move until you've finished discussing that point. Then walk back toward the podium. Repeat the process a few times during your talk to emphasize your key points. Remember to keep looking at your three chosen people on the left, center and right.

     Focus on the audience members who are really listening. Don't worry about the ones who aren't. As long as you continue to look at your three chosen listeners, the entire audience will hear and see you. You'll look comfortable, your gestures will be natural, and the audience will be focusing on how strong and confident you appear.

     You'll never have to worry about where to stand or how to move about the stage because you'll know exactly what to do at every moment. You can forget about yourself and focus on the gift you're giving the audience. When you forget to think about yourself, you automatically become the unique and sexy speaker they came to hear!