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Master Non Verbal Communication and Body Language. Tips From A Speech Coach.

What does your body language say about you?

Dr. Evil Non Verbal Communication
Dr. Evil Austin Powers

Improved Body language For Better Connection:

Why is it that some people walk in and light up a room and others’ eyes dart around searching for the corner and nearest glass of Sauvignon Blanc?


The way you simply exist in the world has a major impact on how others perceive you. The minute you walk into the room, people notice the way you move, the way your clothes hang on your body, and the expression on your face. Within seconds, people have made an assumption and you’ve made your first impression. People decide if they want to know you or not.


Statistics show, 55% of the cues we receive are non-verbal, 38% relate to the tone of voice, and only 7% connect with the exact words we use or hear.


Your body language has the force to convey confidence, warmth, and trustworthiness. It also has the power to communicate fear, unease, and insecurity. Your first impression is made in under 7 seconds. Once someone decides who you are, your future interactions will be viewed through that filter. If they feel that they can’t trust you, there may be an uphill battle to sell them on your idea. It can be difficult to change their perception and can damage the relationship.

Man using body language to communicate on stage
Man speaking on stage

The second you use your voice, another opinion is made. Does your voice align with the way you appear? A soft spoken, squeaky voice will not match a power suit and strong gestures. A loud, authoritative voice does not easily coordinate with slumped shoulders and fidgeting feet. Take the time to think about how you want to be perceived. It’s important to align your mind with your body language and voice to feel grounded. If you want to sound confident, then you need to feel confident.

Your body language and voice dictate people’s perception of you.


The good news is, it is all within your control.

Self-awareness is key as you pay attention to your body language and communication skills. With some pre-planning and positive thought, you can train your mind, body and voice to create a dynamic presence that will help you connect better and engage, more easily, with others. Remember, that It’s not necessarily what you say, but how you say it.


Let’s take a deep dive to understand our body language

Body language can be broken down into four categories: posture, facial expressions, gestures, and vocal tone.


Posture is the way you sit or stand, and includes things like leaning forward or back, crossing your arms, holding your head up, and maintaining an open stance.

Postive, Confident Older Women striking a pose
Confident older women

Facial expressions tell others how you’re feeling at a given moment. When you smile, frown, raise our eyebrows, or furrow your brows, you’re sending a message to those around you that sets the perception of how you are feeling.


Non-verbal cues or subtle gestures, like eye contact and hand movements, also contribute to how you are perceived. Eye contact shows that you’re engaged in the conversation and that you acknowledge the other person. When you stare off to the side or look beyond someone, it inhibits the listeners(s) ability to engage and they may not feel heard. Hand movements can be used to emphasize a point or express emotion. If you are a smaller person, larger gestures help you take up space, especially on a large stage. However, gesturing too much and too often can be off putting and overbearing.


Vocal tone also impacts others’ perception of us. Speaking in a strong, confident tone can convey authority and respect. On the other hand, speaking too quietly or slowly may give the impression of insecurity and hesitancy. If you are one who speaks too quickly or too loudly, this can make you seem nervous or unapproachable.


How Can You Control Your Body Language:

The key to controlling your body language is self awareness. It is important to take inventory of yourself before you walk in the room or appear on-camera. Set an intention of how you want to be perceived. Confident? Friendly? Authoritative? Feel the intention and work to embody it. Once you are in the room, notice how you’re standing and sitting, as well as the facial expressions and vocal tones you’re using. Be mindful of these cues. Let’s look at a few ways to help you connect better with those around you.

Posture

Good posture isn’t just about appearance. It can also help boost your energy levels and concentration. When seated, try to maintain a straight, supported spine, with your shoulders back to improve your breathing and alleviate the chance of an unsupported voice which can lead to vocal fry. Keep your head up so you are not looking down at your keyboard or screen. Standing up straight will increase your ability for proper breath support to help project and improve the sound of your voice.


Speech Coaching Method For Better Posture:

There are 5 points of alignment to help give you a supported spine and confident appearance

  • Feet

  • Knees

  • Hips

  • Shoulders

  • Head

Anatomy skeleton proper alignment
Anatomy Skeleton

Work to place the feet shoulder width apart and your weight distributed in the middle of your foot. This serves as the base of the spine, as you work to support from the ground up.


Next, keep your knees soft and over your feet. Locking your knees causes the chest and pelvis to thrust forward which causes stress on the lower back. Blood flow can also pool in the lower extremities to cause your blood pressure to drop.


Adjust your hips so your weight is centered over the knees and feet. Standing with one hip cocked appears casual and does not show readiness. Tuck your pelvis so the line continues from the feet, to the knees, to the hips.


Roll your shoulders back and down, to create a broad chest that is not raised too high. This shows assuredness and confidence.


Place your ears over your shoulders so the head is not hanging forward or turtled in, above your neck.


After working through the 5 points of your alignment, you should feel a lengthed spine and tall, supported posture.Standing up straight will increase your ability for proper breath support to help project and improve the sound of your voice.


Fun Fact:

Did you know the weight of the average human head is about 11 lbs? Can you believe it sits balanced on just 7 vertebrae in your neck? There are about 20 muscles that are responsible for keeping the head in place and moving it forwards, backwards and side to side. The position of your voice also affects your sound.


Alternatively, you can use body language to make yourself appear less intimidating. This includes avoiding aggressive or powerful postures, as well as speaking in a softer or calmer voice.


Eliminate Awkward Body Language:

When it comes to eliminating awkward body language, start by being aware of your habits. Pay attention to how you move and speak, and make sure that you’re not sending the wrong message.


Speech coaching helps you discern if your voice is too loud or too soft. We help you discover the right volume for talking in different situations. To increase your volume without shouting, practice using breath support to amplify your words.


Try to relax any tense muscles and avoid overly aggressive postures. Crossing your arms or slouching can make you seem closed off and unapproachable. Avoid nervous gestures like playing with your hair, fidgeting, or tapping your foot. These habits can draw attention away from what you’re saying and make the conversation seem awkward.


How To Not Look Awkward When Speaking:

Two important elements of effective communication are being authentic and engaging with your audience.


Authenticity means being true to who you are — it’s about being genuine and confident with your own words and beliefs. Engagement requires that you make a connection with those around you, listening to what they have to say and responding in kind.


Most importantly, maintain a positive attitude and don’t be afraid to show emotion. When you speak from the heart and express your passions, people are more likely to relate to what you have to say. A genuine interest in the conversation and a willingness to listen will help you make better connections with those around you.


Speech Coaching Helps To Build Confidence For Improved Body Language:

Confidence is all about believing in yourself and your worth. To increase your confidence, remind yourself of the strengths, skills, and qualities that make you unique as an individual.

It can also help to practice visualization — closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a situation or speaking in front of an audience. This helps you to become more comfortable with the idea of being in such situations.


Another way to boost your self-confidence is to use positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are statements that encourage and motivate you, such as my favorites, “I can and I will” or, “I got this!” Repeating these affirmations to yourself can help to instill a feeling of belief in your ability to succeed.


To appear more interesting in conversations, be sure to ask questions and show enthusiasm for the topics being discussed. Also, be sure to ask questions about whomever you are speaking. People are most comfortable talking about themselves as it’s a subject they know most about. Show your interest by paying attention to their answers.


Practice using body language that conveys interest such as smiles, nods, and leaning forward. This will make you seem engaged with the conversation. Try to keep an open mind when talking with others, as this will help to create a more interesting dialogue. Use the word, YOU more than the word I.


Observe Body Language Cues To Connect Better With Colleagues:


Focus on building relationships rather than just exchanging information.

Take the time to get to know each person on a more personal level. Ask questions and be interested in their answers. Show that you appreciate their ideas and opinions, even if they’re different from your own.


Positive Body language between colleagues
Business men looking over work

Pay attention to your colleagues’ body language cues such as facial expressions, posture, and eye contact. Eye contact is particularly important when it comes to fostering good relationships. Maintain it for at least four seconds when speaking with someone to show that you’re engaged in the conversation.


How To Make a Positive First Impression:

A positive first impression is important to building relationships with the people around you. Remember, you make an impression the minute you walk into the room or onto the screen. To make the best impression possible, be sure to dress appropriately for the occasion, maintain good posture and a friendly facial expression, and speak with confidence.


Be sure to introduce yourself in a positive way. Share your accomplishments and what unique qualities you can bring to the table. Smile frequently when greeting people, use their names when exchanging pleasantries, and make eye contact as often as possible.


Most importantly, be yourself and stay true to who you are. People can easily spot phoniness or when someone is trying too hard. To make a lasting impression, show that you’re comfortable in your own skin and confident in your abilities.


Body Language Tips For a Job Interview:

Confident, competent, and composed are effective goals during a job interview.


Confident body language involves maintaining good posture. Be sure not to slouch or fidget. Take a few deep breaths, relax your body before entering the interview room and choose an adjective that depicts how you want to be perceived.


Good eye contact is also important, as it conveys interest and shows that you are paying attention. Make sure to maintain steady eye contact with the interviewer throughout the conversation and when answering questions.


Keep your facial expressions natural and engaging. Smile when appropriate and don’t forget to nod or show agreement when the interviewer is speaking. This shows that you are listening and interested in what they have to say.


Inflect the voice with confidence instead of using uptalk - ending the sentence as if you are asking a question. Land your sentences with authority instead of inflecting upwards.


Good Body Language When Giving a Speech:

When giving a speech, your non verbal communication and body language should show confidence and be dynamic.

Begin by standing tall with good posture and make sure to keep your feet firmly on the ground. Focus on maintaining steady eye contact with your audience, as this will help to engage them in the conversation and show that you are confident in what you’re saying.


Keep your voice loud and clear so that everyone in the room can hear you. Also, try to vary your vocal tone, pitch, and volume throughout the speech to keep people engaged.


When using hand gestures, make sure they are purposeful and not distracting from the content of your speech. Try not to fidget or move around too much, as this can be distracting. Make sure any pacing or movement is deliberate.


Finally, make sure to end your speech with a strong and memorable closing statement. This will help you leave a lasting impression on your audience.


What To Do With Your Hands When Speaking?

When speaking, your hands should be relaxed and used to emphasize points. Try not to clasp your hands together or put them in your pockets as this can make you appear closed off or uncomfortable. Hidden hands are also deeply ingrained in our historical evidence that when someone approached without showing their hands it was perceived as threatening or a sign of danger.

Non verbal communication with hands
Patriotic Hands Vote

It’s also a good idea to use hand gestures to help emphasize key points during the conversation. Make sure they are purposeful and natural. Open palms and open arms are a great way to show that you’re open and interested in what the other person has to say.


Avoid making overly large or exaggerated motions, as this can be distracting from the conversation and can make you appear less grounded and able to lead. Finger pointing is another motion on the not do list as it can make others feel scolded and “pointed out”.


Speech Coaching Helps Harness Your Body Language To Improve Your Voice During A Presentation:

Studies show, the way you present yourself when speaking is often more important than the message you are trying to convey. Projecting your voice is key when speaking in public settings. In order to engage your audience, you must have a dynamic presence, clear and concise content and a powerful voice!

  1. Focus on your breath support, posture, vocal tone, and pitch. Increase your volume as needed to ensure everyone in the room can hear you clearly. Breath support can also help you feel centered and composed while speaking. Start by taking a few deep breaths before beginning your presentation. Work to achieve low diaphragmatic breathing as opposed to shallow chest breathing.

  2. Use a strong yet comfortable volume that will carry throughout the room. If you’re nervous or unsure about your volume, it can help to practice recording yourself and playing it back.

  3. Embrace pauses and silence strategically throughout a conversation during a speech to be effective. Pauses give the audience time to digest the content and add emphasis to key points. Allow the audience time to answer when you ask questions. This helps you to engage and connect with listeners.

  4. Vary the tone of your voice to help convey emotion and keep people engaged.


Well thought out gestures, body language, and facial expressions help when giving a presentation to create an authentic presence that engages your audience and keeps them interested in the conversation.


Your voice is an effective tool for connecting with your audience. Speak with enthusiasm and confidence, and practice using vocal techniques such as pauses and inflection. This will help you keep people’s attention throughout the presentation and leave a lasting impression on your audience.


Speech Coaching Involves Body Language Because It's More Than Just Physical Movement:

Your body language, voice, and presentation skills all play a role in how people perceive you. With practice and self-awareness, you can use these skills to create a strong and dynamic presence that will help you connect with people better and make positive first impressions.


With the right approach, you can develop leadership qualities that will help you become an effective communicator and leader. This can result in stronger relationships with your team and better engagement with your audience.


The more knowledge and practice you have, the more confident and powerful your presence will be when speaking in front of others.


Confident, happy group of women jumping in the air together
Group of women jumping in the air

Cathy Motley-Fitch, founder of OnPitch Speech Coach is a Speech Coach based in Richmond, VA who teaches individuals, groups and teams, online and in person, how to speak effectively and engage, inspire and persuade others through their most powerful voice and dynamic presence!

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