In public speaking, verbal and non-verbal communications are your primary tools to help you send your message across to the audience. Your hand and eye movements, your facial expressions and the way you stand and walk all carry a significant part of your message. And it is important that our non verbal they do not send the wrong message.
Here are some non-verbal communication mistakes that you should avoid to ensure a successful presentation.
1. Really bouncy hands.
Bouncing your hands up and down as if you were conducting an orchestra distracts your audience. Instead of listening on what you’re saying and focusing on your presentation, your audience will start to watch your hands and follow their movements.
2. Pacing on the Platform.
This is pacing back and forth across the room, never standing still, like a tiger pacing in the cage. Although this helps you feel closer to your audience to emphasize your message, this can also make your audience feel uncomfortable, especially when done continuously. Do not forget that the platform is there for a purpose and you need to use it properly. Sometimes, you need to just stand still and look your audience in the eye and deliver your message.
3. Standing behind a lectern for the entire speech.
This says, “I don’t want to be here, I am shy, I would rather hide”. Come out from behind the lectern and engage the audience and interact with them. Just like the platform, the lectern is there for a purpose, but it’s not to hide you from your audience. It is not a wall that you can lean on while you deliver your message. Remember that your audience want to see you. Moving away from the lectern tells your audience that you want to reach out to them and that you are just within their reach.
4. Passive stance.
This can be the fig leaf, hands in pockets, stand cross legged, anything that makes you look smaller or intimidated. In public speaking, your stance alone can send a message to your audience. The way you stand tells what kind of speaker you are and helps your audience decide whether or not you are worth listening to.
5. Avoiding eye contact.
This includes looking out the window, to the floor, to the ceiling and not your audience. You need to look at your audience so that you can build trust. Looking at your audience and maintaining eye contact helps you read their reactions and energy, allowing you to respond appropriately.
6. Fidgeting with things.
This includes playing with pens, your glasses, cuff links, twiddling and twirling your hair, playing with your jewellery. Don’t fiddle with things and if you are likely to, then best not to bring them with you when you go on stage. Fiddling and fidgeting sends a message that you are nervous and unsure of what you are talking about. If you want your audience to trust you and believe what you are saying, you need to stand before them confidently and full of authority. Your actions on the platform should tell your audience to listen and pay attention to your presentation.
Your verbal and non-verbal communication should convey the same message to your audience. They need to support each other to ensure a successful presentation. If you want to learn more about winning presentations, I have an upcoming Winning Presentation Skills workshop in Perth on 19 March.