The ability to understand, interpret and demonstrate effective body language is a skill that will enhance anyone’s presentations, training, public speaking and career in general. Body language is a form of communication, and it needs to be understood and practiced like any other form of communication. Whether in training, facilitation, keynote speaking or everyday communication, it is essential to understand the body language of others and know exactly what your own body is saying and communicating. Those with a good understanding of body language can be described as having good Nonverbal Literacy.
Bartholomew Ciampa, defined Nonverbal literacy as “the skilful interpretation of nonverbal behaviors by an individual”. Nonverbal behaviors include facial expressions, eye contact and eye movements, hand and arm gestures, posture, breathing, movement on the stage or platform and other body movements, which convey meaning and are part of your spoken communication. Becoming nonverbally literate is a process that is generally learned over time through developing emotional intelligence, through interpersonal interactions and through seeking effective feedback. Nonverbal literacy can also be taught through effective communication skills coaching and training.
So as a presenter, trainer, facilitator or keynote speaker you must be acutely aware of both your own body language and the body language of the audience. What are your non verbals saying to the audience? What are the audience’s non verbals saying to you? To be oblivious to your closed or aggressive stance or gesture while presenting will negatively impact on your connection and rapport with the audience. To ignore the audiences body language and not change pace, or take a break, when the audience is telling you that they need to, will also be detrimental to your ability to persuade and have impact in your presentation.
So how developed is your nonverbal literacy? How aware are you of what your body is saying. When did you last review a video of one of your presentations? Is nonverbal literacy important to you?