Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.7. The impact of non-verbal cues/body language and signals on audiences is analysed and used appropriately.

ryanrori December 28, 2020

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Gestures; don’t be too emphatic (cultural differences), using theatrical motions or gestures for the hearing-impaired; don’t be mechanical; don’t use gestures to substitute for vocal variation; like a play; some gestures are distracting (repetitious hand or arm movements); holding on to their clothes; hands in pockets; fixing hair while speaking; covering your mouth; waving arms; pointing fingers; pounding fists; if you’re watching a video of an impressive speaker, you should be able to guess at which are the important points, even if you don’t understand the language; watch someone speak in a foreign language.

Body Language Speaks Volumes

Body language is the message that your body sends to another person without having to say a word. Body language is a very strong communicator. Up to 93 % of communication is non-verbal. Including tone of voice, eye movement, posture, hand gestures, facial expressions and more. The pressure of body language can be felt especially in emotional situations. Body language usually prevails over words.

The eyes communicate more than any other part of the human anatomy. Staring or gazing at others can create pressure and tension in the room. Gangs have fought over the way someone looked at them. Research suggests that individuals who can routinely out gaze another develop a sense of control and power over others not so inclined. Maintained eye contact can show if a person is trustworthy, sincere or caring. Shifty eyes, too much blinking can suggest deception. People with eye movements that are relaxed and comfortable yet attentive to the person they are conversing with are seen as more sincere and honest.

Body language is equally important to verbal language. Verbal language doesn’t carry any meaning without effective body language. Body language has the power to attract the attention of the listeners. Positive body language is easily understood. Hand gestures do play a vital role in deciding the success of the speech.

Body Language Communication – Speeches

You need to be aware of your body language from the moment you stand up until your speech is completed. The importance of positive eye contact and the correct use of posture and hand movement to accompany your speech cannot be overstated. As audience analysis shows body language is a very important part of any speech.  Members of your audience will analyse your body language, even if they are unaware of this on a conscious level. A brilliantly prepared speech delivered in an interesting voice will fall well short of the mark if accompanied by negative, intrusive or hostile body language.

Body Language Communication – Body and Limb Movement

The way that you use your body and limbs will also have a major influence on how your audience perceives you. When speaking you will normally be standing, and an ideal stance is with your feet close together and your weight evenly distributed between them. It is important not to grow roots – don’t stand in one position, but try to inject movement as you speak. This helps to add a natural animation to your presentation as the audience will have to adjust their gaze to follow you rather than stay looking at a fixed position. By developing a practiced way of moving you can add a confident and professional air to your presentation style. Precisely how you choose to move is a personal thing – but try to develop and rehearse your style so that you end up moving without conscious effort. The key point about arms is to ignore them – move them back into your subconscious so that they can support what you are saying in a natural way. That said, there is one movement that you should develop when presenting that will display confidence and openness. This involves moving your arms away from your body and showing open palms to your audience.

Body Language Communication – Eye Contact

Eye contact with the audience is an essential part of any oral communication. Without it the audience will feel remote from the presenter and are unlikely to relate to them or their message in a meaningful way. Eye contact should be a positive form of body language communication, but if it is not used correctly it can easily become negative.

The face shown has a shaded area that indicates the correct target zone for positive eye contact. That is looking anywhere within this shaded zone represents positive eye contact. Looking at someone’s face anywhere outside of the triangular target zone is likely to cause some degree of embarrassment. However, the no-go zones shown are both associated with strong adverse reactions.

Zone A represents the intimate zone and by moving just a fraction below the base of the target triangle you will enter it. When this happens people typically react by feeling that the other person is staring at them, or that the observer looks shifty.

Zone B represents a dominant zone and by looking at the forehead of another person you are likely to invoke a reaction that you appear to be arrogant, that you are staring straight through them or more commonly that you are talking down to them.

As well as understanding how to make positive eye contact with an individual it is also important to ensure that your gaze encompasses your whole audience – including those at the back and the sides. Try to avoid holding eye contact only with audience members who appear enthusiastic and interested. Whilst you may find it more difficult to engage members of the audience who appear neutral, it is important to try to involve them.

Body Language Communication – Your Posture and Stance

There are further aspects of posture that you should be aware of – as they can easily communicate subconscious messages, some of which you will want to avoid:

The forward sloping stance indicates a wish to dominate other people, often it is accompanied by an over-stressed point. The presenter may be attempting to impose a concept or point of view on their audience. This is made worse by aggressive or intrusive behaviour – such as entering the public zone or the use of hostile gestures.

A bent posture is indicative of a person who is saying something without conviction. Saying one thing whilst meaning another – such as a salesperson giving an exaggerated sales pitch or a customer who wants to say no but has been placed in an awkward position.

The upright posture demonstrates adult, assertive behaviour with no hidden meaning or manipulations in the communication. This stance indicates that the person has conviction and confidence in what they are saying. This is the posture you should practice and use when presenting.