Fake it 'til you make it: using confident body language in your presentations

Cet article est disponible en français ici

How do you feel about public speaking? Apparently, people fear public speaking more than death! Or at least as much as they fear snakes.

Why are we scared of public speaking? Because we are vulnerable: it feels as if we are standing in front of a group, who are all evaluating us to see if we deserve to be there. In the old days, the group would have been assessing our suitability as a hunter or leader. 

Presenting in French is difficult for me, so when I present in English, it seems really easy and I actually enjoy presenting in English nowadays. So the more you present in a foreign language, the more of a piece of cake presenting in your own language will be.

Being nervous is normal, but what can you do? Research has also shown that using confident body language makes you truly feel more confident on the inside, so here are a few tips to help you:

  1. Stand up straight. Balance your weight evenly on both feet.Keep your head straight. Tilting your head when you speak to someone one-on-one shows you are listening, but holding your head straight shows authority.

  2. Use your hands to gesture naturally. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, hold them by your side. It feels really strange when you do it, but when you see someone do it, it looks very natural. Just don't leave them by your side for the whole presentation. 

  3. Don’t touch your face, hair or neck. It makes you look nervous.

  4. Breathe! Breathe deeply before you start to calm yourself. Use your breath to remember to pause while you’re speaking.

  5. Speak slowly. When we are nervous, we have a tendency to speak faster. Force yourself to slow down.

  6. Make eye contact all the way around the room. If you are in an amphitheatre, with a lot of people, choose people to look at in each part of the room. Go slowly with your eye contact, you’ll look more relaxed. And if looking in the eyes is difficult for you, look at people’s chins. They will never know the difference.

  7. Video yourself speaking whilst following these tips. You’ll see how confident you look. ​

  8. Work with a coach who can help you identify any issues and leverage all of your good points. This will give you so much more confidence when you present.

  9. The more you practise using confident body language, the more confident you will become in your presentations. Now go and try it out for yourself. 

For more presentation skills tips, sign up for a “Public Speaking in English” workshop where you’ll get lots of personal feedback on your body language and lots more.

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