Words are less important than your voice in affecting the feelings and attitudes of your audience, and, even added together, they don’t make as big an impression as nonverbal and nonvocal cues.
While there are no reliable, exact measures as yet, from all the anecdotal evidence I have accumulated from my years of doing and observing presentations, I have no doubt that facial expressions and body language play a major role in whatever impression you make on your audience.
Whether you are meeting someone one-on-one or speaking to an audience of five thousand, before you’ve said a word, people have made some kind of judgment about you.
And while your superficial appearance is important—what you’re wearing, how fit and groomed you are, and how attractive you may be—they determine what kind of a person you are based on cues that are far more subtle.
Unaware of this, many presenters focus exclusively on the words of their presentation and ignore all the other more important components. They give no thought to the best place to stand when talking to an audience. They don’t know how to use their hands or their eyes to give their message maximum impact. When you know how to use the tools of body language and facial expression to enhance your persuasive powers, you will be a far more effective presenter than you ever imagined.
When you come onto the stage, hold your head high and focus on a spot slightly above the heads of the audience rather than making eye contact. At this point, you don’t want to be distracted by anyone who might be wearing a hostile or irritated expression.
Walk to the sweet spot, the spot in which everyone in the room will feel as if you are addressing him or her directly. While the exact location of the sweet spot will be different depending on the dimensions of the room, you can use the same technique to find it whether you’re in a conference room with an audience of thirty or on a stage in front of a crowd of ten thousand.
Jason talks about a second kind of stance you can use that shows confidence and credibility. He then reviews the most common signs of a nervous stance, and what you need to do to avoid those nervous habits.
People sometimes think the way to be a dynamic speaker is to use a lot of motion, so they pace around and move their hands all the time. Random movement is just a meaningless crutch. It also distracts your audience.
In his book A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink, who writes about issues related to emotional intelligence and empathy, says facial expressions are the most universal and powerful means of communication. When researchers gave a very diverse group of populations photos of people showing different expressions, the people tested unanimously understood what the people in the photographs were thinking and feeling solely through their facial expressions and even without clues based on tone, language, or body language.
Yet when those same people were asked to interpret what an extended hand meant, some thought it was a friendly invitation to shake hands while others were offended. When those same people were asked to interpret a shake of the head, some thought it meant “I disagree” while others thought it meant the person was listening intently. None of them, however, misinterpreted an emotion conveyed by eyes. For example, an expression of surprise (revealed by wide-open eyes) was interpreted as surprise across all cultures.
The fact that the expressions in a person’s eyes have the same meaning in all cultures has powerful ramifications for you as a presenter. You can’t fake a smile, and you can’t fake sincerity. There are several basic principles for communicating with your eyes.
Questions are a sign people are interested and provide an opportunity for interaction that makes your presentation livelier. Presenters often tell me they have a hard time getting responses when they invite questions. You can turn that around with just a few simple techniques. I’m going to show you the body language she used to achieve that level of credibility and how you can use the Q&A body language blueprint to do the exact same thing.
Jason Teteak knows what it takes to Rule the Room. The master trainer and speaking presentation teacher has taught more than 50,000 people how to flawlessly command attention.
He’s won praise and a wide following for his original methods, his engaging style, and his knack for transferring communications skills via practical, simple, universal, and immediately actionable techniques.
Jason first made a reputation in the medical training industry, where he was known as “the presentation coach and trainer who trains the trainers.” Teteak’s attention to detail and precision in communicating definitive information was honed in serving this lifesaving industry.
In response to many requests, he began to offer personalized services and quickly developed a following as a private coach and a consultant whose clientele includes elite institutions, universities, and top corporate executives.
His new book, Rule the Room, was recently published in the summer of 2013. He has developed more than fifty presentation and communication training programs ranging in length from one hour to three days that serve as the basis for this unique, practical, and comprehensive course.