Power Moves! – 5 Tips to Make Body Language Work for You!


Gestures and Body Language are important and powerful tools which have in them, an immense potential and ability to affect the end effect of our speeches and presentations! When used appropriately, our body gestures may enhance and strengthen the effect and points of our speech! Used indiscriminately, they’re liable to dilute and dampen the power and effectiveness of our presentations.

So what are some of the positive gestures and body language you may adopt to enhance your public speaking performance for maximum impact?

Well, I’ve been racking my brains trying to find ways to show you some simple yet effective ones which you may incorporate in your everyday speeches and presentations! It was really an uphill task finding ways to SHOW it you, instead of trying to TELLing it to you in a blog of words!

Initially, I thought of showing you pictures, but pictures were too static. Naturally, I hoped to find a speaking video on gestures on YouTube. However, that proved to be futile too… until I chanced upon another video, featuring Arlene Stepputat who happens to be a public speaker and trainer from the United States! Even though much of the content in the video revolved around Arlene’s pet topic of “Service”, I realised that she had utilised several body language strategies in her presentation that most of us could use in our own speeches!

So, for the benefit of everyone, I’ve not only decided to attach and share the video here, I’ll also be providing you an evaluation and analysis of the techniques and body language strategies she used to articulate and present her points for maximum impact!

I would recommend that you spend the next 7 minutes watching the video first to analyse her message and mode of delivery, paying particular attention to her body language. You may then scroll down and compare your notes with mine to see if they match yours!

Here it is!

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Now, have you finished watching the video?

Great!

Here are my notes on some of Arlene’s positive use of body language and gestures!

Left – Right Rule

One of the best gesticulation techniques I managed to spot Arlene using was the way she used her hand to illustrate and throw her weight behind points she supported, and those she didn’t. For example, she used moved to the left, and gesticulated with her left hand to illustrate points that she didn’t particular agree with, or attached a negative connotation to, and conversely, moved to the right whilst utilising her right hand to illustrate points that she felt were “right”.

Indeed, research has shown that people do respond subconsciously to these body language signals, and these can become a powerful tool to use in a presentation when you’re trying to win over your audience!

Palms-Up Technique

Arlene uses another great technique to introduce another point to her audience by showing her palms to the audience. This Palms-Out technique is a “submissive” gesture, in the sense that it shows the opposite party that you’re unarmed and safe, thereby fostering trust and putting the opposite party at ease.

The Palm’s-Up Technique is another great tool to use in a presentation when you’re trying to win over an audience, or for introducing new ideas to the audience. It is also great when you’re approaching someone new and are trying to strike up a conversation with others!

Animation

Did you notice how the audience laughed along with Arlene’s animation? Not only had Arlene created an analogy of the Teflon-Velcro-Reverse Symdrom, she brought it to life by animating and showing what she meant by one’s Teflon and Velcro behaviour towards praise and criticism!

Animation is a powerful technique that helps paint vivid images before the audience’s eyes!

Wouldn’t you agree with me that Arlene succeeded in getting her point across and got her message to stick in the mind of her audience with her successful animation of her analogy?

Facial Expressions!

Probably the most neglected of all body languages, facial expressions are powerful and effective tools to help you illustrate a point. Frown to invoke a sense of disapproval or pain or smile or raise an eyebrow to suggest an enlightening or attach a positive connotation to your point!

Of course, sometimes, while the subtle use of facial expressions may appeal to the subconscious mind, there may be times when you might be required to exaggerate it a little a times (like what Arlene did in this video) in order to make an impression with your audience!

Idling Hands

Now, we’ve examined some examples of how to use your hands when you’re trying to make a point. But here’s where it really gets interesting… what should you do with your hands when you aren’t making a point?

In many cases in the Toastmasters, I’ve seen new speakers allowing their arms to drop like lead every time they’ve finished articulating a point. Under normal circumstances, I’ve nothing against arms resuming their rightful place besides one’s thighs. However, I do find the movement of hands as it travel up and down to make a point tends to distract the audience when done excessively, not to mention that it is also a big waste of time too!

A technique I learnt from television hosts and newscasters is a simple technique which I used to great effect! All you have to do is positioning your arms just beside or in front of the waist when you’re not using them. You may clasp your hands just in front of your tummy, or keep them tucked under your arms like what Arlene’s doing in the picture!

Well, like I’ve mentioned, it’s really difficult to explain. Therefore, to help you understand what I’m really driving at, and to cater to your interest in knowing and explore morning “styles” of holding your idle hands when they’re idle, I’ve compiled a simple picture list of how you go about keeping your hands occupied when they have nothing to do – all the while looking professional!

Here’s the treasure:

One of the advantages of having by your sides midway up your body is the convenience of using them to illustrate a point without having to move across GREAT distances! Having your hands around your waist area also gives your audience the impression that you’re always prepared and ready to make a point!

Well, there you have it, 5 Ways to Make Body Language Work for You!

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Is there anything interesting you’d like to share? Or are there anything else you spotted in the video that I failed to highlight? Drop me a line or comment below so that everyone may benefit from your knowledge and insights!

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

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Related Posts:
More Than Words
Body Language

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19 responses to “Power Moves! – 5 Tips to Make Body Language Work for You!

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  3. Hey Gary

    I always think that body language makes for a fascinating subject. There’s a expert here in the U.K. who had a documentary series about this very subject. The comment he made about politicians like Clinton, Blair and Bush were worth the time invested alone. He also wrote a book called The Book of Tells. It was a great show and interesting read.

    If you have the opportunity to check it out I’d thoroughly recommend it.

    Cheers,
    Jason

  4. Hi Jason,

    thank you for your recommendation! Indeed, body language makes for a fascinating subject, and it’s a “language” that few people have learned to master! I’m sure the expert’s documentary would provide intrigueing insights too!

    Do you recall the title of the series? Perhaps I could watch, analyse it and post some of our my synthesized thoughts on the blog too.

    Or perhaps you might want to do it?

    Let me know soon!

    Cheers!
    Gary

  5. Hey Gary,

    I believe the total of the show was Body Talk, although I could be mistaken.

    Just found an old review of the show which talks about how President Bush was stiff and nervous when he was in the company of The Queen.

    The above article that Kenneth links to mentions Dr. Collet also.

    I don’t think the show has been re-run in the UK, but clips of it might be found on YouTube or Google Video. I think gary that if you come across the show then you should post about it on your blog. Although I will more than likely link to it from mine!

    Cheers
    Jason

  6. Hi Jason,

    thanks for sharing and the recommendation! I’ll do my best to get my hands on it.

    In the meantime, please feel free to go through the upcoming body language resources that I’ll be uploading soon!

    Talk soon!

    Cheers!
    Gary

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  8. Gary,

    This is an excellent post on body language. I especially like how you have broken it down with your examples.

    Often, presenters don’t focus at all on their body language. I always tell presenters that they need to use broader gestures since they draw the eye and project dynamism. Further, it is important to develop a vocabulary of gestures since they are both an effective and efficient way to communicate.

    You are also right that a good presentation is perceived to be effective not necessarily by what it said but by how it was presented. This is why I tell presenters to always expand their vocal range for greater emphasis. Not only will it help to hold audience attention, but also helps to telegraph more clearly how they feel about what they are saying.

    Here is a great article on the subject: “Albert Mehrabian, a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, is well-known for his publications on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages. His findings on inconsistent messages of feelings and attitudes have been quoted throughout communication seminars worldwide, and have also become known as the 7%-38%-55% Rule.
    According to Mehrabian, these three elements account differently for our liking for the person who puts forward the message: words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55%.”

    More can be found at: wikipedia

    Thanks again!

  9. I wonder if there are any definite body language “no-no’s” besides arms crossed over the chest? That’s one I have to work hard not to do.

  10. Hi Janie,

    definitely! I’m working on that post now, and it should be out over the next two weeks (once I get my exams out of the way) *winks*.

    And oh, let me know if you’ve any other questions too so that I can look for more relevant material for you!

    Meanwhile, make yourself at home here, and I’ll update your post real soon!

    Gary

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  14. A fantastic article on an important topic. Here is something often overlooked by public speakers and trainers but is a crucial tool for keeping your audience engaged.

    In addition to the point of exaggerating facial expressions during a talk, I’d like to add that we need to do the same with all of our body language, especially when performing for a large audience. Sometimes we may feel we are making large movements, when in reality, we need to go even bigger to make our stage presence really felt.

    More about this subject can be seen on the Confidently Speaking video blog:

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