Every human has an innate ability to notice a number of physical signals given off by another person. According to Albert Mehrabian’s “Silent Messages” study, a speaker’s impact (in the case study) is based 55% on body language (physical presence, gestures, eye contact), 38% on voice and tone, and just 7% on the content being communicated.
The audience thus uses their overall perception of content and body language to get an idea of the speaker’s self-confidence, engagement, social skills and trustworthiness. The most important pre-requisite for achieving a natural aura of authority is to appear authentic and act in a genuine, unaffected manner.
You can significantly improve your air and demeanor by applying just a few fundamental points. The following practical exercises, inspired by physical and acting training, will help with your preparation and instill confidence in you as you give your presentation.
A confident stance looks self-assured and powerful. The upright posture on two legs means the person is particularly reliant on their stable balance. It provides the basis for walking and standing. When coming from one’s center, movements are easy to perform and remain in flow, following their own rhythm.
When on the dais, it is extremely important to adopt a confident stance. To do this, it is recommended that you center yourself into a relaxed, upright posture. This puts you in touch with your physical center, deepens your abdominal and diaphragmatic breathing, and improves stability.
Breathing is what supports the speaker through the presentation. The spoken word is a sonorous exhale, making it very important for the voice’s projection and expression. At the same time, respiratory energy creates suspense, alertness and presence. Breathing training is also a useful way of warming up directly prior to the presentation, counteracting anxiety.
People express their personality through their gestures. A just like a signature, they are highly specific to each individual. They can range from very minor movements and subtle impulses to expressive, sweeping gesticulation. Gestures can intensify the impact of communication in many different ways – both on the stage and in everyday life.
Gestures cannot be seen independently from overall body language and the meaning of the words spoken. This link is the reason individual gestures in everyday life are spontaneous. Presentations, however, often involve gestures which reveal the speaker’s lack of confidence in the situation, for instance. But once the presentation gets going, our body language can support its content without us consciously doing anything.
One particular part of your attention is focused on the people in the room. The listeners are the ones you want to get through to with your presentation. It takes courage to make eye contact with the audience, because it means engaging in dialog with the listeners. Be as attentive as you can to your guests.
Allow your gaze to wander right across the room during the presentation. Rest your focus on certain groups of people, and keep specifically addressing individual people through your eye contact. Looking at your script breaks the eye contact, so keep the presentation as free as possible.
Demonstrate presence and attentiveness. Your gaze indicates to your listeners that “I am here”.