Presentation skills, conversation skills and writing skills are the three keys to effective communication. In this post, I'd like to focus on some tips for using non verbal communication to improve your presentation skills.
Eye contact helps indicates your interest in the people in the audience. It increases your credibility. When you make eye contact with people in the audience, you increase your chances of getting your message across. Eye contact helps you establish a connection with the audience. When you make eye contact with people as you are speaking, you build one to one bonds with them.
Smiles are powerful - I always try to keep a smile on my face when I am speaking. Smiling makes a speaker more warm, likable and friendly. When you smile, people see you as happy -- and this makes them more receptive to you. People react positively to smiles. When you smile, the audience smiles. And a smiling audience is a receptive audience. Smiling will help you get your points across and accepted.
Gestures are another important form of non verbal communication. But you have to be careful with gestures. I practice my talks in front of a mirror. As I'm speaking, I watch my natural gestures. Then I enhance them. Usually, I amplify my gestures, because big rooms demand big gestures. However, sometimes, I tone them down -- depending on the audience. Regardless, I focus on making my gestures natural and reflective of what I'm saying. I try to avoid choppy, sudden gestures when I'm speaking. Instead, I focus on making my gestures fluid.
Posture and body orientation - I always stand up straight and look directly at the audience. Standing straight and looking directly at the audience indicates confidence. I use posture to make points though. If I am speaking about confidence, and want to give an example of an unconfident person, I slump my shoulders and look at the floor. Spend most of your time oriented toward the audience. If you're using slides, speak to the audience, not the slide. It's OK to look at a slide -- especially if you want to draw the audience's attention to it, but always turn back to the audience after a few seconds.
Proximity - Unlike many speakers, I like to get away from the platform and walk the room. This means that I get up close and personal with people in the audience. I have a wireless device to advance slides, so I am not tied to my computer. I find that audiences like it. As I walk the room, people feel that I'm more a part of them, having a conversation with them, rather than talking at them. This doesn't work with very large audiences -- which I define as over 100 people. However, even if you are speaking to a large audience and need to remain on the platform, I suggest using a wireless device to advance your slides. You won't be tied to your computer, and you'll appear more natural.
Your voice - Be animated -- avoid speaking in a monotone. Show excitement for your material with your voice. I always practice my talks out loud -- that way I hear my voice and the words I am using. This helps me modify my delivery in ways that will improve my impact with my audience.
If you use these non verbal communication ideas you'll become someone whose presentations carry an impact -- and you'll be on your way to career and life success.