how to be a confident public speaker

Why good body language is the best visual aid for your talks

July 27, 2016

Better Body Language for your Presentations

The best (or worst) visual aid for your talks is you.

You and your body language are the focus of attention in your presentations. Not your PowerPoint slides.

In fact, many of the best speakers – politicians, comedians, TED presenters – don’t use any supplementary visuals at all, just their own face and body.

They craft their message carefully and hone it through rehearsals. This preparation allows them to focus on delivering their content effectively through their body language.


Positive Body Language Tip 1: Take control

Non-verbal communication has three uses, according to David Lambert.

It can:

  1. replace speech (e.g. a wink)

  2. reinforce speech (e.g. nodding while saying ‘yes’) a

  3. give clues about our true feelings (e.g. fidgeting when nervous).

Successful speakers use open, controlled and strong gestures that reinforce their message. Less successful speakers contradict what they say with their non-verbal behaviour.

For instance, if your body language suggests nervousness when you speak, the audience will interpret that as a lack of confidence in your own message.

Equally, if you fold your arms while you speak, you create an implied barrier between you and your audience.

That’s why successful leaders learn how to control their posture and gestures to avoid negative or distracting body language. Click here to read “What should I do with my hands?” – our introduction to powerful body language for speakers.

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Better Body Language Tip 2: Just acting ‘naturally’ doesn’t work

Speaking to large groups of people isn’t a natural situation, so aiming to behave ‘naturally’ is an unhelpful goal.

In fact, to transfer energy and enthusiasm to your audience, you need to be ‘more’ than you would normally be in smaller-scale interactions.

For example, being more expressive and more powerful in your command of space.



Better Body Language Tip 3: Increase your self awareness

At Benjamin Ball Associates, we film our clients during our coaching sessions. When they watch the footage, they are often surprised to see their body language contradicting their message.

For example, one speaker subtly shook his head in a ‘no’ gesture’ when he was answering ‘yes’ to a question. For a low-tech alternative, try delivering your talk in front of a mirror.


Tip 4: Better content is the first step to better delivery

If your content is weak, even the best delivery will leave audiences unmoved.

Conversely, the better your content, the more confident you’ll feel about delivering it.

We’ve found that people’s body language naturally improves ten-fold once they feel confident and comfortable about the content of their talk.

That’s why we focus on getting that right first. We:

  • Ensure you have a clear message
  • Help you break content into key points
  • Work with you to find the stories and evidence to back up those points
  • Create a subtle structure that gently guides your audience
  • Strengthen the language you use, so it is more powerful.
  • Refine the start and end until they produce maximum impact.

Only then do we coach our clients on delivery techniques to further engage your audience.

Start Improving My Body Language Today



Start your journey to world-class public speaking skills now

First, download our free ebook to start your journey towards becoming a Powerful Presenter.

You’ll learn our 5-step process for transforming dull, forgettable and un-engaging presentations into your most Powerful Presentations yet: inspirational, memorable and persuasive.

It’s full of practical tips and insightful quotes that will help you make immediate improvements to your leadership talks and presentations, including:

  • Increased confidence when you talk and present.
  • Improved ability to persuade your audience.
  • Greater engagement with your audience.

Download your free copy of our Five Steps to Improve your Leadership Talks ebook now.

Get expert support

We can support you with all aspects of your talk, from your structure and messages through to your delivery and body language.

Our team has helped hundreds of CEOs and senior executives to overcome their nerves and confidently deliver impressive and persuasive talks, speeches and presentations.

We can transform your talk in as little as half a day. We come to your office and work 1:1 or in small groups. Call Louise on 020 7018 0922 or email louise@nullbenjaminball.com to find out more.

Start Improving My Body Language Today

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