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The message you give with your body is as important as the one you give using words. There are two main messages which your body can give during a presentation: that you are confident about your topic, and that you are not confident. The latter is much easier to achieve; but the former is what makes for an engaging presentation.
Body language, both good and bad, involves many different elements. The most important ones are:
Each is considered in more detail below.
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Standing well allows you to control your breathing and voice production. You will feel better, sound better, and look better. Also think carefully about where your hands will be and what you will do with them.
The most important part to remember about delivering a presentation is: face the audience! The collocation 'give a presentation' is important. Think of 'give a present' or 'give a gift'. You would not give someone a present with your back to them, and yet many students give a presentation this way, because they spend too much time talking to the screen or their notes. If you need to turn away, for example to look at the screen, then stop talking, look at the screen first, and face the audience again when you continue speaking.
How much or how little you move during a presentation is also important. Remember that you are the energy of your presentation, and you therefore need to move in order to convey that energy to the audience. At the same time, you need to be careful not to move too much. As noted above (under posture), what you do with your hands is also crucial. They will move a lot during your presentation: to count, to stress important points, to demonstrate something physical. They may move places you are not aware of (e.g. touching your hair), so be careful.
Eye contact is important because it creates a relationship between the speaker and the audience. It encourages the audience to listen, and it helps the speaker to relax.
It is useful to remember that looking confident and feeling confident are not the same. Almost everyone gets nervous when they have to speak in public. But not everyone shows it. Use strong body language, including good posture, good positioning, confident movement, and good eye contact, to help you appear confident (even if you are not!).
|Posture is confident (standing up straight)|
|Hands are held in a comfortable position|
|Position is good (facing the audience, not talking to the screen or notes)|
|Movement is natural (not too much or too little)|
|Hands are used well (to emphasise points, to count, to demonstrate)|
|Nervous gestures (touching hair/glasses) are avoided|
|Eye contact is maintained throughout the presentation|
|The speaker looks at the whole audience (not just one or two people)|
|The speaker avoids talking to the screen/notes|