The Use Of Body Language In An Effective Presentation

Any effective presentation requires specific focus on three main areas: voice; body language and content.

In the first article we considered the use of voice, in delivering an effective presentation both online and in-person, in this article we consider the use of body language.

Your Body Language:

When presenting in-person your body language accounts for up to 55% of an effective presentation delivery, whereas with online presentations that number drops to a dismal 5%.

This is due to the fact that the presenter is invisible for most of an online presentation and is therefore no longer able to fully use body language to assist them in conveying their message. They thereby lose much of the effective tools of body language, facial expressions, movement and gestures to capture and hold the attention of their audience. They are also no longer able to walk around the room to gauge the reactions of their audience.

If you cannot see the presenter…what they look like and how they move is irrelevant. Instead, the focus moves off their physical presence to the content of their slides, and to their voice as they deliver the presentation.

In fact, the only time you usually see the presenter of an online presentation is for a few minutes at the start and end of the session. So, it is important to make the most possible use of that time to convey confidence, professionalism and credibility using body language.

Body language involves four main areas:

  • Posture – Posture is all about how you carry yourself to show relaxed confidence. Standing or sitting up straight with shoulders back and your chin up is the best way to show confidence. Whilst, these are no longer important during an online presentation, they are still important at the start and end of a presentation when you are in full view. At the start, when greeting your audience and informing them of any relevant background information, so that they understand why they were invited to attend the session. At the end, when you thank them for their time and share any next steps that they will need to be aware of and possibly participate in. When on view, you need to be suitably and professionally dressed, as is appropriate for your position as a representative of the company, unless your company has a more relaxed dress code. It is also the time when you are able to non-verbally (without words) communicate that you are confident, credible, knowledgeable and capable enough to command their attention, as you chair the session. So, use that time wisely.
  • Facial expressions – Again, as with posture, these are only truly visible at the start and end of an online presentation, when you are in full screen view. Use these times to show with your expressive face that you are approachable, relaxed, open, interested and am happy to be there. Also remember to smile sometimes whilst presenting. Why smile if you cannot be seen or are off-screen…you may ask? Well, that smile can actually be heard in your voice, making you come across as friendly, engaging and approachable. It can also be infectious, making your audience more likely to respond in kind. Of course, you will only smile sometimes, as a break from your usually formal demeanour or manner, just to add some occasional lightness to the session. It is a balancing act as do it too much and it will seem as though you are either insane or are not taking the session seriously, do it not at all and you will seem hard and disinterested. It can also help increase your awareness of how you use your voice, to avoid droning on monotonously like a robot, or rushing to get the presentation finished impatiently. Your audience needs to know that the topic you are presenting is important to you and that it is therefore also important to them, as that is the only way you will ensure their support and buy-in.
  • Eye contact – In in-person presentations, you need between 60 and 70% eye contact with your audience, in order to be effective. Online, you only have the start and end when you are on full screen view to use eye contact to connect with your audience. So, try not to read, look away or be otherwise distracted from looking directly at the camera during that time. To do that you will need to have memorised your start and end segments so that you can focus exclusively on the camera and your audience. Eye contact makes your audience feel valued and important, it also allows you to show that you truly value and appreciate both their opinion and their input.
  • Movement and gestures – Whilst, vital during in-person presentations, this is again limited when presenting online. So once again, make full use of the start and end of the session to capitalise on this technique. But, remember to not fidget or overdo it, as this is not only distracting but irritating. Also avoid using too many practiced gestures, instead favour natural movements, as these come across as genuine, believable and authentic, rather than forced, fake and unbelievable. Use the right amount of natural movement and hand, head or arm gestures to appear relaxed and confident, and remember your posture, whilst doing so.

In conclusion, your body language though limited when presenting online, is important to an effective presentation, so work on getting it right. Confident body language at the start and end of an online presentation, can still be very effective in both creating a connection with an audience and in ensuring that you appear professional.

For even more detailed information on how to create and give the perfect Business Presentation, please also watch my YouTube video playlist: Business Presentations

Look out for the third and final article in this series: The Use Of Content In An Effective Presentation

Links to other related content:

  1. Business Emails
  2. Business Meetings
  3. Business Presentations
  4. Business English Tests
  5. Business Lessons Learned
  6. Videos

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Posted by optimumbusines

Lyn has worked in various business areas of large, internationally-recognised, multinational telecommunication corporate organisations since 2004, gaining significant expertise in the business language of each. Her role regularly combined the functions of internal communications, training and change management on large projects and other strategic initiatives. She also has specific experience in: – Creating HR policies and procedures – Talent recruitment lead creation procedures – Process creation, optimisation and re-engineering in AP, sourcing and HR – Migrating and managing SOX and EWC compliance, and implementations – Global and regional Shared Service Centre management and implementations – Bid Management – EcoMetric assessment training and certification procedures – Internship creation and management – Full SAP, IFRS15, Concur and S4 Hana implementations QUALIFICATIONS She has a four-year Higher Diploma in Education from the University of Natal, in secondary (high school) second language teaching. She also has a Bachelor of Arts degree, from the University of South Africa (UNISA), majoring in Psychology. She is a certified EcoMetrist and has an Advanced 120 Hour TEFL certificate. Her combination of international business experience provides practical, professional know-how, combined with excellent qualifications, ensures an effective all-round, expert approach to training.

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