Public Speaking Series: Perfecting Your Body Language

If you’ve heard the phrase ‘Actions speak louder than words’, you’d understand how your body language also plays an important part in sending a message across. So, it’s no wonder that once you understand how to conquer your public speaking fears and forming a great speech, working on your body language is the next crucial part in your public speaking transformation.

1. Observe Various Speakers

Take inspiration from other orators or people you admire. Watch TED Talks, put speeches on loop, and adopt unique mannerisms from other speakers. Poetry slams, age-old videos or conferences have a plethora or different types of styles and speakers. Pick a few that resonate with you and put them into practice!

If you need a couple to start with, try Nick Vujicic, Darren Hardy, Robert Kiyosaki, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Shetty, or take your pick on the TED Youtube channel!

2. Mirrors Are Your Best Friend

You get to see yourself through your audiences’ eyes to point out your flaws and figure out your fortes. Mirrors are great for reflecting that, a literal ‘what you see is what you get’ moment where you get to play both roles of the scenario. Ideally, this is one of the most successful forms of practice before practising in front of a real person. Alternate routes could be through recording yourself with a timer on the side and watching it on playback to observe for errors.

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3. Maintain Voice Consistency and Clarity

Remember, you need to convince yourself that you know what you’re doing first before trying to convince your audience. Trailing off or losing track halfway instantly puts the audience off and there is little you can do to rekindle their interest again. Keep your points clear and concise and more importantly, have faith in your words (even if it’s a little lacklustre). Content quality is important but so is delivery and how you want your audience to perceive you.

4. Eye Contact and Gestures Work a Treat

An interactive speaker that goes out of their way to communicate with the audience is the winner of the story. Eye contact is a very essential part of engaging communication, not just with public speaking but with daily conversations. It shows that you are present in the moment and valuing their presence. Not meeting the audiences’ eyes or keeping your head down instantly tells anyone watching, your nervousness or inability to be invested in what you’re trying. 

It’s a lot like staring fear in the eye but also equally rewarding when you see how engaged the audience members are in what you’re saying.

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5. Finally - Go Out and Get Some Experience!

Now that you’ve more or less quipped yourself with certain assets, it’s time to swap the hairbrush for a microphone. Put yourself out there and keep persisting, even if fear lingers in the background. 

Luckily, Taylor’s has an abundance of clubs & societies that cater to the public speaking experience. These are namely the Taylor's Model United Nations, Taylor’s Debaters, and Taylor’s ToastMasters Club, that equip you with skills and, in turn, segue opportunities to join competitions and pile up your CV. 

It’s a win-win — but only if you’re willing to take the leap.

Remember, it’s all about trial and error and figuring out what style and method works best for you. Audience approval will only prove relevant when you truly believe in what you want to say and what approach YOU choose to take on. No matter which milestone you hit, there are points where we’d need to make our voices known, whether in professional or personal lives. 

Lastly and most importantly, have fun doing it! Sure, this is an important life-skill and all, but just as well can develop into a fond hobby with time. Not to mention learning/research comes as a definite bonus of course!

Karen Grace Prince is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication (Honours) at Taylor's University. She is also the Secretary for Taylor's Model United Nations Club (TLMUN).