A to Z Challenge: B is for Body Language and Being Yourself

I have a friend who is rather a formal sort of chap and when he spoke, even in a social context, had a tendency to be rather wooden.

His job required him to regularly do presentations in front of clients so he decided to do something about it and join a Toastmasters club. He did rather well in crafting his speeches who also happened to be interesting. He expresses himself in the written form eloquently. This brings us to…

B is for Body Language

Your body language and gestures enhance your message. Getting back to my friend…his speeches were great speeches. His voice was clear. However, in the beginning he stood in front of the audience without moving at all reciting his speech. When he got to the level where he had to incorporate body language into his speaking, that’s when the fun started. No matter how hard he tried, his movements still came across as quite forced and uncoordinated to what he was saying, which diluted his message.

When there is lack of comfort with moving in front of the audience then the best thing is to put the lectern or a desk to good use until you feel comfortable stepping out from behind it.

One thing to remember in this instance is the purpose of your talk or presentation – can it be delivered from behind a lectern or desk, or will that dilute the message? Is it appropriate for the occasion?

There is nothing wrong with speaking from behind a lectern. If you are delivering a speech or a press briefing, you can stay behind the lectern (picture here the President doing a speech for the press). However, if you are the Emcee (MC) at a wedding the best is to stay away from the lectern (unless you need to use it as protection from flying rotten tomatoes!)

These may be of help:

  1. Beware of pacing too much – this can be irritating and cause neck pain for the audience. This is not a tennis match. And your message may be diluted.
  2. Unless you are Italian, French or Portuguese, stay away from descriptively expansive arm movements – if they do not come naturally to you.
  3. No hands in pockets please – do not make me explain.
  4. No hands clasped in front – do not make me explain that either.
  5. Hands are best on either side of your body to where they return after making some sort of movement.

And this leads naturally to…

B is for Being Yourself

Do not try to imitate someone else. This may add to any anxiety you could be feeling. Use them as inspiration and take tips from them, and adapt these to your personality so that they come across naturally. If something does not feel right then it probably is not right for you.

Let me know what you think.


Tomorrow’s Lesson from Behind the Lectern is – C is for Chatting up a Storm and being Conversational


This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge and Twitter id is @AprilA2Z.

4 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: B is for Body Language and Being Yourself”

  1. I am enjoying this A-Z series on speaking in public. You are so right about the need to accompany the speech with appropriate body movement. Like so many others, I too find it much easier to speak in front of people I don’t know rather than those I know well. 🙂

    1. I am glad you’re enjoying this series Linda :-).
      Apologies for taking so long to reply. I found your comment in the spam folder. I have told Akismet now that it is not spam.

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