PointersI know better, but I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to placing too much emphasis on content – the actual words and phrases – when preparing for a presentation. Communicating, as you might know anecdotally, is as much about your body language and facial expressions as it is about your words.
Here are some interesting facts about the importance of non-verbal communication:

  • Human communication is 20% verbal and 80% non-verbal. This means if you’re saying something but your body language says the opposite, you’re not likely to get your message across.
  • According to researchers, our bodies express emotion better than our faces.
  • The average person actually only speaks words for a total of 10-11 minutes a day. And the average sentence takes 2.5 seconds to say.
  • We make and recognize about 25,000 facial expressions a day.
  • Pointing is one of the most offensive gestures pretty much around the globe.
  • Hand-steepling is the most high-confidence hand gesture. This involves touching the spread fingertips of both hands in a gesture similar to praying hands, but the fingers are not interlocked and the palms may not be touching.
  • Power poses – e.g. standing up, sitting with arms spread out on the on the chairs around you, “Wonder Woman” stance (feet planted; hands on hips) – make speakers feel more powerful as they actually change testosterone and cortisol levels in the body.

Be body-aware and body-smart. Think about your face, your body and your posture. Identify what your “job” is – your communications task for each public speaking occasion – and practice what that might look and sound like as part of your preparation. In other words, what does persuasion look and sound like; what does reassurance look and sound like; what does motivation look and sound like? Practice with your words, but also make sure it looks and sounds like you!

Beth Levine

Beth Levine

Communications Coach at SmartMouth Communications
SmartMouth Founder and Principal Beth Noymer Levine is a Communications Coach who is emerging as one of the country’s leading voices on how to prepare and deliver speeches and presentations that actually work for both the audience and the speaker.
Beth Levine

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