Monday Quick Tip – Control Your Body

Trumpeter Swan by Cecil Sanders from Flickr

When I titled this blog, I thought of the phrase “Stand Up and Speak” in a more metaphorical sense, as opposed to a specific instruction. Some of my recent coaching, however, has me thinking about just how important it is for a great speaker to be totally in control of her body while on stage.

So much of your presence in a room is dictated by the way you carry yourself. If you’re fumbling, or flailing, or slouching you will fail to make your presence felt. Your audience will almost certainly miss the point of your presentation.

How do you exude charisma and charm? How do you carry yourself in such a way that you draw the room in, and hold their attention throughout? You just need to be in charge of your body.

Be Self-Conscious

Ordinarily, I’d tell you to be exactly the opposite when you’re in front of the room. Confidence is really important. When we’re talking about your body, however, it’s very important to be self-conscious. You need to know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it at all times.

Are you shifting your weight from one foot to the other? You’re probably making your audience seasick. Are you dancing around as though you’ve got gum on the soles of your shoes? Do your gestures and hand movements flap and flail about?

If you’re not conscious of what you’re doing, if you haven’t given your movements some motivation, then they are wasted movements. They distract from your presentation, rather than contributing to it.

I’m no ballerina. I’m an extremely large and rather awkward dude. That means that when I’m on a stage, I have to be doubly mindful of what I’m doing with my body. Otherwise I wind up klutzing it up. I have to pay attention to how I’m standing, where I move, and how I move my hands. I have to be deliberate with my gestures so that they’re meaningful and functional. I’m capable of tripping over my own two over-large feet, so I need to be aware of their placement and direction.

It’s All About Energy

Energy is the key word when you consider your body and your movement on stage. When you’re speaking or presenting, you have to impart some of the energy and passion you feel about your topic to your audience. That is the best way to keep them engaged.

If you’re lumbering about the stage, swaying and flapping, you are wasting valuable energy that you can share with your audience.

For example, a loose flap of a hand gesture that smacks back against the presenter’s leg sends all its energy straight down into the floor. You need to visualize yourself as a sort of generator. You have the power to create energy, and direct it wherever you wish, force-lightning style (only not quite as kill-y). It’s up to you to direct that energy to the places where it will do the most good.

The less energy you waste, the more you’ll have to share with your audience. The more you’ll be able to draw them in, and focus their attention on what you would have it focused upon.

So much of any presentation is non-verbal. The way you present yourself can make the difference between a successful presentation, and a failure. Even if the content is the same.

How do you control your body? What techniques do you use to keep from flailing about on stage? Share ‘em in the comments!

Photo courtesy of Cecil Sanders on Flickr.