Gestures Speak Louder Than Words
Our bodies send messages that speak volumes about us--what we are feeling and thinking at the time, how comfortable and professional we appear. Learn more about our body language and gestures and what we can do to improve the "look."
Copyright (c) 2008 Lynda Stucky
The speaker looked me in the eye and held my attention for six seconds. As he spoke, he smiled at me and extended his hand warmly. Making a point in this brief engage, he stepped closer to me. At that moment, I felt like I was the only person in the room and yet there were 30 people in the audience. I was comfortable listening to this man speak because he seemed to be talking to me!
You don't have to be a paid keynote speaker to improve upon your body language! Do you make eye contact with the listener? Do you use your eyes, eyebrows and mouth to express your meaning? Or does your face suggest boredom and disinterest? Are your hands close to your sides, wide open or constantly moving out of nervous habit?
Some of us need to learn to enlarge our gestures and facial expression while others of us need to tone them down a bit. Even if your audience is only one other person, try these techniques for enhancing your message:
1. Minimize distracting gestures. Using your hands non-purposefully while talking is one of the biggest problems. If your hands are constantly moving, sit on them to keep still. This strategy is useful for eliminating unwanted movement. Other habits that are distracting may be fixing your tie, pushing back your hair, facial ticks, swaying back and forth, etc. All of these can be eliminated with a little effort.
2. Let your body respond naturally to what you are thinking and feeling. Natural body movements are apparent when we care about our subject. But you can bring natural movements into even the most mundane conversations. Raised eyebrows and expressive smiles are just a few sincere expressions.
3. Use your fingers when listing points. Successful speakers use gestures and words together to convey meaningful messages. For example, use two fingers to express two things. Point to a body part when you speak about listening or thinking. Look for other gestures that help to accentuate your message.
4. Use facial expression to express sincerity and a positive attitude. A warm smile, raised eye brows and head nods can help to express sincerity and warmth.
5. Make eye contact when you speak. In order to involve your listeners and let them know you are speaking to them personally and directly, you must look them in the eye. By looking someone in the eye, you convey interest in what he says, honesty and confidence.
Take a few moments to observe others. What gestures do they use effectively in conversation or during presentations? Engaging and inspiring speakers are the ones who purposely take advantage of body language to communicate more effectively.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lynda Stucky is an expert at working with people who want to speak with clarity, credibility, and influence. President and owner of ClearlySpeaking, her background in speech pathology offers unique skills for consulting business professionals on communication skills including accent modification (regional and foreign), voice care, vocal dynamics, diction, grammar and how to speak concisely. http://www.clearly-speaking.com