Want to deliver a powerful presentation?
What you say and how you say it will play an important part — but your stance and body language are key.
“The audience reads the speaker’s intent with their unconscious minds,” explains Nick Morgan, speech coach and author of “Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact.” “Physical stance and body language signal the speaker’s emotional state.
Most speakers protect themselves by putting their hands in front of their torsos, to feel more comfortable, he says. “That is read by the audience as a signal to flee.”
When the speaker appears to be protecting him or herself, it implies there’s a significant threat in the room. The audience senses this and thus gets ready to escape, Morgan says. “And how well do you imagine they are listening as a result?”
So if you want to engage your audience, draw them in, make them feel comfortable, and hold their attention, you’ll want to stand in the “Jesus pose,” he says.
This is when your hands are about waist-high, or a little higher, spread out so that each one is about six inches out from your hipbone, with your palms facing up.
This pose signals openness, and therefore creates trust with audiences. “Instead of frightening them, you relax them and they begin to trust you, bond with you, and are more receptive to what you have to say,” Morgan explains. “Anyone who wants to accomplish that would be well advised to use the gesture.”
If you find it difficult to maintain this pose, it’s because our gestures are typically controlled by our unconscious mind, he explains. “So, an even better approach — if you can do it — is to get into the right emotional state before a presentation or speech, since emotion drives gesture,” Morgan concludes.
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