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In public speaking, your body can be an effective tool foradding emphasis and clarity to your words. It’salso your most powerful instrument for convincing anaudience of your sincerity, earnestness, and enthusiasm.However, if your physical actions are distracting orsuggest meanings that do not agree with your verbalmessage, your body can defeat your words. Whether yourpurpose is to inform, persuade, entertain, motivate,or inspire, your body and the personality you project mustbe appropriate to what you say.
Gesture• is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body.• allow individuals to communicate a variety of feelings and thoughts.
Gestures can be used to:a. emphasize the point you are making –shaking your fist to show you are serious; makingan OK or victory sign with your fingersb. suggest something –shrugging the shoulders to show that you don’tknowc. describe –acting as if you are falling to describe that you fellface first into the waterd. prompt- clapping your hands to make your audiencealso clap
Stand straight but not rigid, with your feet about six to12 inches apart and one slightly ahead of theother. Balance your weight evenly on the balls of yourfeet. Lean forward just a little. Your knees should bestraight but not locked. Relax your shoulders, but don’tlet them droop. Keep your chest up and your stomachin. Your head should be erect and your chin up, but notuncomfortably so. Let your arms hang naturally atyour sides, with your fingers slightly curled.
When you speak, your face communicates yourattitudes, feelings, and emotions more clearlythan any other part of your body. According tobehavioral psychologists, people can easilyrecognize – simply by observing a speaker’sfacial expressions – such distinct feelings assurprise, fear, happiness, confusion, disgust,interest, disbelief, anger, and sadness.
Using Appropriate Posture and Bodily Gestures in public speaking
1. Stand with confidence. Stand and spreadyour feet about 6 to 8 inches apart parallelto each other to achieve a comfortablespeaking position.
2. Face your audience withyour hands on the sidewith your chin up.Face your audience withboth your hands on theside. This position will makeyou appear open and sincereto your audience as well asgive the impression that youare in control of thesituation.
3. Use your hands to emphasize or reinforce yourmessage when speaking. The most effective gesturesare spontaneous ones. Don’t force yourself to raise yourhand or shake your head. Bodily gestures occur naturallyif you know what you want to say. If relevant gesturesare used at the right time, your message will definitelyget across.
4. Make an Eye Contact When you speak, your eyes also function as acontrol device. Simply by looking at them, youhave an influence on your listeners’ attentivenessand concentration.
Avoid the following as much as possible:• crossing your arms - makes you look defensive• hands at the back - as if you are hiding something• hands in your pocket -as if you’re hiding something. It might cause embarrassment if you happen to jiggle coins/keys in your pocket
• Swaying in front of the audience• Finger tapping• Licking your lips or biting your lips• Fidgeting with clothes, pockets or jewelry• Frowning• Fussing with hair• Bobbing your head
• hands on hips - makes you seem aggressive; as if you’re bullying your audience• hand on chin -as if you’re not yet ready with what you’re going to say because it seems you’re still thinking of what to say• two hands cupped - makes it look like you’re covering something in front of your chest