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Public Speaking and Body Language

22 August, 2010

There’s a lot of things about being a good public speaker.  It’s certainly difficult to narrow down to one key element that turns a speech from good to great.

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However, it’s far easier to look at some things that people do when they speak in public, and point out where these can be improved.  I’ll go into more depth in subsequent posts, but this is just to give an overview.

Firstly, the stance.  More important than most people realise, the stance is a main way of communicating how you feel about what you’re saying.  When a person is nervous about what they’re saying, there’s a few things that they tend to do – mostly featuring hiding some part of their body, or putting something between themselves and their audience.

  • Inexperienced teachers might hide behind a desk
  • Inexperienced speakers might use a lecturn
  • Inexperienced debaters might use a static stance

Any of these tactics, however, highlight one thing – more practise is necessary!

Secondly, the gestures.  When a person is in a conversation with someone else, they move naturally – the gestures accentuate the words.  In a speech, however, these gestures are either stunted or wiped completely – stunting our message.

Thirdly, the voice.  When we want to make a point in a conversation, we emphasise particular words.  In a speech, we should be doing the same thing – however, many inexperienced speakers freeze this, and focus on just getting the words out.  Once again, this is a clue for the speaker that they need more practise.

Each of these things are purely to do with what we look like, and there are so many other aspects of public speaking – even before we get to the actual speech content!

In future, I’ll be writing several posts on each of these topics – and more – but for now, I feel confident in giving a referral to Dale Carnegie’s classic book, The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking – click on the link to order this.

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