Body Language

Confidently Speaking: Mastering Body Language for Professional Success

Body language can be a powerful weapon in working up your confidence and self-esteem.

By using some specific body language, you’ll appear more confident to your audience. Looking confident to others will make you feel more confident yourself. Concerning public speaking, this confidence will increase your speech quality and interest.

“I believe that if you project a confident, credible, composed image, people will respond to you as if you are all those things.”

Barbara Pachter

Speaking with your body

Your body communicates with your audience as much as your words. In fact, more. Around 55% of our total communication is your body language. It can make your speech tremendous or, otherwise, wreck it.

In this post, we explore the main points for you to focus on your body language during your presentations.

Eye Contact and Smile

Your face is the first thing other people look when they meet you. First impressions are vital for the development of a relationship. Make sure you look approachable and trustworthy – make eye contact and smile at your audience.

Do you trust a person who avoids looking into your eyes? Probably not. Would you trust a leader that can’t bare looking at you? When you’re speaking to an audience, you’re their leader, and they need to know that they can trust you. Eye contact makes you look more honest, approachable, and confident.

Too uncomfortable? If it is too difficult for you to look at your audience in the eyes, then you must practice it. When having a conversation, make an effort to look into your interlocutor’s eyes. Get used to it. Until then, try to look at a spot close to your audience’s eyes. They won’t know the difference.

Your smile, as good eye contact, will make you more approachable and open to the eyes of your audience. A person who smiles is more memorable and trustworthy. Besides, when you smile, you almost always get a smile back, creating a positive exchange for both you and your audience.

Stand up Straight

Standing up straight will make you look confident and open. Don’t fear to occupy space. If you are at the stage, it is all yours! Pull your shoulders away from your ears and uncross arms and legs.

Hunching over, lowering your head, or crossing your arms, give your audience the idea of fear and insecurity. You want them to feel the opposite of that!

Also, try to keep your head and chin up. Don’t look down at your feet or the table. Do you know the old Victorian trick of putting a few books on your head to have a good posture? If you find it difficult not to look down, imagine that you have a couple of books on the top of your head. Don’t let them fall.

If you are afraid of looking to distant, you lean slightly forward when someone is talking to you. This is especially useful during Q&A sessions. It shows that you are attentive.


Nervousness will ruin the message. When you show you’re too nervous, that’s all your audience will be able to pay attention to. They won’t focus on your message.

Pacing too much around the room, playing with your fingers, or with the pointer will distract your audience. The excess or repetitive movements are all your audience can see. They will not be able to focus on the message.

Try to avoid this by making slow, purposeful movements. If you walk around the stage, opt for large steps. You’ll look more confident.

Watch your hands

Your hands, and the way you move them, tell a lot of stories about yourself, and how you are feeling right now. So pay attention to them.

Touching your face or neck is a sign of nervousness, so avoid it. Same with moving your hands a lot.

Some speakers try to control their hands by hiding them into their pockets. That’s a bad idea. You may look more anxious, depending on the rest of the posture, or worse: you might look like you don’t care. It is an informal posture and might be negatively interpreted. Standing this way suggests that the message, or the people, are not important enough for you.

Instead, make purposeful movements and gestures, preferably with your palms up. You’ll look more honest. By showing the palms of your hands, you avoid giving the impression that you are hiding something.

Focus on others

A confident person is more focused on other people than on themselves. Look interested and pay attention to your audience. Remember that the message is the most important thing in your presentation, not you.

Body Language is your greatest tool

Body language is sometimes ignored or underestimated by those who speak in public. Yet, it has a massive impact on the way other people perceive you and your message.

Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist working in the field of body language. In 2012, she gave a TED talk on how body language shapes the image we project on others and ourselves. According to her, mirroring other’s body language helps you to connect with the other person.

Take advantage of your body language

Your body language can help you to achieve the confidence you need for a successful presentation or speech. Managing your body language will send appropriate signs to the occasion, increasing the chances of getting positive feedback.

The way other people perceive you is as important as the quality of your speech. An appropriate body language is your best ally in this matter. It can make you look confident, trustworthy, an authority in your topic.

Study your body language and others’. Make sure you understand the power of nonverbal communication in business and start climbing the stairs to success.

Cátia is a psychologist who is passionate about helping children develop and train social skills.


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