Magazine article Talent Development

Louder Than Words: You've Got Plenty of Great Things to Say. Make Sure That Your Body Language Doesn't Betray Your Message

Magazine article Talent Development

Louder Than Words: You've Got Plenty of Great Things to Say. Make Sure That Your Body Language Doesn't Betray Your Message

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Every time you take the platform in front of an audience, your body language speaks loudly and clearly. Smile sheets or evaluations won't help if you don't know what your body is saying that your mouth is not. You must understand what you say without words to eliminate mental, physical, and emotional barriers between yourself and your audience members.

If you are experiencing a communication breakdown during a training program, it is crucial to objectively identify the reasons why. Too often, I hear trainers say that a habit originated with another person or with the audience, but is that really true?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

To overcome the obstacles that can break a connection with the audience, you need to understand and use body language to your advantage to gain more self confidence, become more productive in front of the audience, and create a bond that brings participants back. Understanding body language is about more than just staying competitive in the training business. It's about creating a powerful advantage, and at the same time, building relationships with your audience members.

Defensive positions

Are you using the training manual as a barrier? If you hold it tightly in front of you, people are looking at the barrier rather than at you, and the manual holds more power than you do. I attended a meeting where the president of the group stood in front of the audience for 45 minutes and talked about the benefits of joining the organization. The entire time, she grasped a notebook to her chest. She never referred to it, never opened it, and there was no reason for her to be clinging to it.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

After her presentation, I asked her why she took the notebook to the platform with her, and she said she didn't realize she had it. This is a defensive position that has become an unconscious habit. You can certainly hold the manual, but keep it to your side or on a table or lectern. Refer to it as often as you need, but don't let it block the connection with your audience.

Going to extremes

Are you holding your training guide in one hand and crossing the other arm over your chest? Many people say it feels comfortable to cross one arm over the chest and hold it in this manner. Again, it may be comfortable for you, but it sends a nonverbal message to your audience that could distract them from hearing what you are teaching. I have observed both men and women use this defensive position, and there's no need for it.

If the arm holding the manual needs support, make your arm stronger by lifting weights. If you don't think you must go to that extent and you want to do something with your other arm or hand, other than simply letting it hang by your side, here are some suggestions: Put your other hand on your hip. It takes up more space, and you are perceived as more powerful. Rest it on the lectern or podium, or alternately, rest it on the back of a chair.

Do not put your hand into your pocket or behind your back. When you do either one of these, people will be wondering what's behind your back or what's in your pocket rather than focusing on what you have to say. For many men, putting a hand or two hands in their pockets happens naturally. You see similar gestures on TV. Men should pay attention when an actor puts his hand in a pocket and think about where the eye travels. Is that where you want your audience members' eyes to travel when you are training? No.

After a half day of training, when your feet, legs, and lower back are tired, should you sit down on a table, in a chair, or cross legs or ankles? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.