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Presentation Skills. Unit 4: Body Language

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Presentation Skills. Unit 4: Body Language

  1. 1. PRESENTATION SKILLS Unit 4: Body Language
  2. 2. WHAT YOU DO SPEAKS SO LOUD THAT I CANNOT HEAR WHAT YOU SAY. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  3. 3. Familiar, isn’t it?
  4. 4. MEDIOCRE presenters rely on their slides. They’ve got a nice bunch of animated slides to show, but they don’t realize the most important visual is them. As we said in the previous unit, how you say things is more important than what you say. Language of your body can help your audience to understand what you say, or can make them fall asleep.
  5. 5. IF your facial expressions, gestures or general posture contradict words that you utter, people will believe the former. Even if you manage to convince them, deep inside they will still feel, ‘There’s something wrong...’
  6. 6. THE tricky thing about body language is that people are usually unaware of it. It’s just natural in everyday life. But when presenting and thus nervous, it can be far from natural. When presenters see themselves on videotape, they're often surprised to see that their body language had an entirely different message from the one they had intended. For example, some people actually shake their heads when they say ‘yes.’
  7. 7. SO, how to speak effective body language?
  8. 8. THERE are several factors: Eye contact Head movements and facial expressions Hand gestures Stance.
  9. 9. Eye contact
  10. 10. Eye contact WHEN you talk to people, you look them in the eye. If you don’t, you give the impression of having something to hide. People might think you’re dishonest, or that you’re not interested in the conversation, or that you’re ashamed. That day, when you came from school with bad marks, where were you looking as you told your parents about it? Anywhere but their eyes, we guess.
  11. 11. Eye contact AND where most of presenters look? Oh, anywhere but their audience’s eyes. Down at their notes, somewhere over people’s heads; or they pan from one side to the other without really looking at anybody. Eventually, people won’t listen to them at all. Little eye contact is a guaranteed way to lose your connection with the audience.
  12. 12. Eye contact ALWAYS keep eye contact with your audience. You should be looking at their eyes 95 % of the time. Not somewhere in the direction of the eyes — but at the people. This way people will realize you are actually talking to them, and thus will listen to what you say. You, in turn, will see if people understand you, if they are convinced or not. Are the members of the audience approvingly nodding, or are they knitting their eyebrows in confusion? Are they looking at you too, or are they looking for their phone, with a bored look?
  13. 13. Eye contact IF you are speaking to 3—7 people, this is fairly easy. Look at one person, establish the eye contact, talk for a while, then switch to another one, etc. But if you’re speaking to a large audience and it’s impossible to look at each member in the eyes, use this technique. Choose five people sitting in different parts of the audience, and while talking, look at them. Thanks to the distance between you and audience, all the people around each one of the five you’ve chosen will think you are looking at them!
  14. 14. Eye contact Here are a few more tips on eye contact. 1. Imagine that the person you’re looking at is the only person in the room. For those few seconds you’re having a private conversation with just that person. Not only will it make your talk more simple, it’ll also make you less nervous, because you’ll no longer care about this whole big audience.
  15. 15. Eye contact 2. Keep your eyes up at the end. The most powerful time to have your eyes up is at the end of a sentence. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when most presenters drop their eyes down so that they can look at their notes. And the powerful impact gets ruined. Discipline yourself to keep your eyes up till you’ve finished your sentence.
  16. 16. Eye contact 3. Respect people. Some people in your audience may show that they’re uncomfortable with eye connection by looking away. Respect that by spending less eye connection time with them.
  17. 17. Eye contact NOW, what reasons stop us from looking at the audience? There are two main reasons: 1) you need to look at your notes, 2) you are nervous. The first one is eliminated with practicing your speech many times in advance. This way you’ll remember what you have to say, and it will allow your eyes to be focused on the audience. Most presenters don’t practice as much as needed, though — and it shows.
  18. 18. Eye contact AS for the second reason, nervousness, mostly it comes from being unprepared as well. We talked about ways to eliminate it in Unit 0. Try them and you’ll see that the more you prepare and rehearse your talk, the less nervous and the more confident you become.
  19. 19. Eye contact ONE more important thing about notes. You may read from your notes only if you need to make a long and complex quotation. Otherwise, never read. If you forgot the next thought, make a pause, look at the notes, lift your eyes back up, establish eye contact — and start speaking again.
  20. 20. Facial expressions and head movements YOUR facial expressions must support what you’re saying and not contradict with it. Simple example: if you say, ‘It’s terrible’, and at the same time smiling, it’s strange. People will think you’re ironical. They won’t understand that it’s a nervous smile. Another example: you’re saying, ‘It’s very, very important for us,’ but your face is tired and shows no emotion. What will your audience think? ‘Right, it’s so unimportant that even the presenter doesn’t care about it.’
  21. 21. Facial expressions and head movements NOD, smile, raise eyebrows, express different emotions to reinforce your meaning and convince people. Remember, when a mother is spoon-feeding her baby, she herself is opening her mouth and grimacing as if she’s eating. And that helps the baby realize what to do.
  22. 22. Facial expressions and head movements BUT at the same time, don’t over-grimace — you’re not a drama actor, and you’re not spoon-feeding babies.
  23. 23. Hand movements
  24. 24. Hand movements DO use your hands. Hand movements have the same importance as facial expressions: they emphasize what you say in words, express emotion. Have you seen fishers telling you just how big their fish was?
  25. 25. Hand movements MOST people have their own gestural vocabulary. Anyone can think of a gesture that supports words such as ‘short’ or ‘tall’, or how to emphasize a thought (raise the index finger, for example).
  26. 26. Hand movements BUT everyday gestures are often too small to use in front of a large audience. Presenters need to scale their gestures to the size of the room. It doesn’t mean swinging your arms. It means making sure your gesture can be seen from another end of the room. That’s why the most effective gestures arise from the shoulder, not the wrist or elbow; and they look more energetic.
  27. 27. Hand movements WHAT should you not do with your hands?
  28. 28. Hand movements WHAT should you not do with your hands? First, don’t hide your hands. Hiding hands looks like you’re hiding something from the audience, being dishonest. In addition to that feeling of being dishonest, keeping your hands behind your back, like a drill sergeant, makes you look aggressive. And keeping your hands in pockets, you look like you’re bored with your speech yourself.
  29. 29. Hand movements Second, don’t do ‘closed’ gestures. Closed gestures mean there’s something between you and your audience, something not letting them reach to you. Unconsciously people feel that you’re ignorant and reserved. These gestures are e.g. keeping your arms crossed; holding your notes with both hands in front of you; keeping your hands in a ‘preacher position’ (hands in front of you, fingers touching).
  30. 30. Hand movements AVOID presenting behind a lectern. Lecterns are too formal and, closing you from audience, greatly limit your gestures and expressiveness. But if you really are presenting behind a lectern, don’t make it worse by grasping its sides with your hands! Try to adjust gestures to your upper-body area.
  31. 31. Hand movements Third, don’t do distracting gestures. Don’t clap, knuckle crunch, or play with a marker.
  32. 32. Stance
  33. 33. Stance HOW to stand in front of the room speaks before open your mouth. A balanced stance with weight slightly forward tends to say that the speaker is engaged with the audience. A slumped stance leaning to one side can says the speaker doesn’t care.
  34. 34. Stance THUS, stand squarely on both your feet when you’re not moving around. The feet should point straight ahead. Avoid standing unbalanced: with your weight on one leg and the other foot wound around it; or putting one foot forward with the toes raised. Don’t hunch, don’t sway from side to side.
  35. 35. Stance WHEN not gesturing, the hands should sit quietly at the sides of the presenter. It is called a zero position. Another possibility for zero position is holding the left wrist in your right hand. Yes, mostly of the time you will move around and gesture more often than usually in life. But that movement should be punctuated with stillness, like pauses punctuate your talking. Constant motion, such as swaying, is a distraction that can annoy your listeners.
  36. 36. Stance KEEP an open posture, i.e. nothing is placed between you and your audience. When writing on a flip chart or whiteboard, don’t turn your back to your audience fully; and don’t speak until you’re looking at your audience again.
  37. 37. IN general, watching great presentation masters on the Internet will be a great help. Watch how they move, what gestures they use, and how it emphasizes what they are talking about. Pay attention to every little details that make up the whole image. But be yourself and don’t copy directly. Find the equivalents that will be comfortable for you.
  38. 38. KEY POINTS
  39. 39. KEY POINTS 1. Keep eye contact with your audience most of your time. 2. Make your facial expressions and gestures support and reinforce your words. 3. Keep a balanced and open stance.
  40. 40. KEY POINTS ... and above all: Open up to your audience, be emotional and authentically yourself.

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