WNA Blog

Thu 8 Nov 2018

Public Speaking Tips: Breathing and Body Language

Public Relations & Media Services
How you stand, how you walk, the eye contact you make – all of these will add value to your verbal messages, whether you are speaking to an audience, having a conversation at a network meeting or speaking to a client.

One of the most important skills to master on your Public Speaking journey is effective body language.

How you stand, how you walk, the eye contact you make – all of these will add value to your verbal messages. In many cases the audience will pick up on the non-verbal and react more to that than the verbal. So, if your body language does not match what you are say you are going to cause confusion with your audience.

Gestures are the most common form of body language when discussing your public speaking skills. The two types that speakers often use to enhance their message are descriptive and prompting gestures.

Descriptive gestures indicate how big, how many, how tall. I’m going to speak about three things and hold up three fingers. Each of us has a different perception when we hear certain words – tall to me may mean something completely different to someone else. Using a hand to indicate how tall helps us all to relate to the word and put it into context.

Prompting gestures are often used in workshops and when introducing or thanking a speaker. When you start clapping the audience starts clapping with you – if you use your hands to indicate standing up – the audience will stand. If you ask a question and put your hand up someone will put their hand up as well. Prompting gestures get a reaction and interaction from the audience.

The other forms of body language used are eye contact and movement on the stage or in the speaking area. Eye contact with your audience allows you to make a connection with them and the people in the audience feel that you are speaking direct to them and inviting them to be with you.

Movement on the stage can subtly punctuate your presentation. Moving from one side to the middle to the other side takes your audience on a journey and allows the speaker to involve all the members of the audience. Remember movement needs to be for a purpose and not because you are nervous and are just pacing.

Breathing is not only essential to life it is a big factor in your speaking voice. The more breath you have and you breathe from the diaphragm the more air you have to control the sound of your voice. Three deep breaths just before you get up to speak helps to control those nerves. It sends oxygen right through the body and provides a calming in control effect.

You are ready to wow your audience.

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