What’s the use of preparing tirelessly for a big presentation, only to have your words ignored because what you’re saying with your body language is distracting from — and, indeed, detracting from — your message?
Body language speaks volumes, and if you’re nervous or self-doubting, it will show if you don’t learn how to monitor your body language when presenting. Though it might seem daunting to have one more thing to worry about remembering during your presentation, in reality, with just a few tweaks and a bit of practice, positive body language will become second nature to you. Check out how to avoid these body language blunders that can derail a presentation and prepare to present with confidence.
Mistake #1: Avoiding Eye Contact
I am all too guilty of this faux pas; when I get nervous, my first instinct is to avoid eye contact to protect myself from vulnerability. However, at best, avoiding eye contact comes off as insecure, and at worst, it comes off as suspicious as if you have something to hide. Learn to make good eye contact and you will always come across as confident and self-assured.
Mistake #2: Slouching
There is no excuse to slouch. Slouching is just lazy. It also conveys boredom and suggests disinterest and disrespect, none of which are attitudes you want to be putting out in the workplace.
During your next presentation, don’t forget to throw your shoulders back, hold your head up high and relay strength through your posture. An authoritative stance can make a world of difference in helping you carry your point home.
Mistake #3: Being Glued to Your Notes
Though frequently glancing at your notes might just be a nervous impulse when presenting, to the audience, relying too much on your notes during a presentation conveys either a lack of confidence or preparation, neither of which are ideal. Come in to your presentation prepared and trust that you know the material.
Mistake #4: Over-Exaggerated Gestures
Though there’s nothing wrong with being excited, being overly emphatic with your gestures when presenting can come off a little bit manic and even insincere. Your gestures should underline you key points, not distract from them. Show your enthusiasm through small, controlled gestures that won’t pull your audience’s attention away from your message.
Mistake #5: Crossing Your Arms (or Legs)
Crossed extremities – particularly crossed arms – convey closedmindedness. You want to seem open and inviting to your audience; thus, make an effort to refrain from crossing your legs or arms.
Mistake #6: Turning Your Back on the Audience
Although it’s important not to stand too still while presenting, it’s also a bad idea to turn your back on your audience in the process of moving around. It’s okay to point out important points as you present, but if you need to draw attention to something onscreen, gesture to the screen while still facing your audience. Turning your back on your audience is a surefire way to guarantee your audience checks out of the presentation.
Mistake #7: Speaking Too Fast
A combination of excitement and nerves can quickly lead to disaster during a presentation in the form of speaking too quickly. Though you might not notice yourself speaking too fast, your audience certainly will notice (as they struggle to comprehend your words). When practicing your presentation, run through it one time focusing exclusively on managing the speed of your speech. Your audience will thank you.
In a presentation, nothing complements preparedness like confidence. Avoiding these body language blunders in presentations will help you appear calm and self-assured, instilling your presentation with a confidence that will win over your audience.