If you’re new to Toastmasters, you will quickly learn that Toastmasters resources—including colleagues at your club—will give you tips to boost both your speech craft and leadership IQ. Body language is one area you should focus on when you give the speeches.
In fact, body language is so important to speech delivery that I devote a block to the topic in the storytelling seminars I teach. Good body language will help you make a positive connection with your audience, while poor body language is a sure-fire way to lose your audience’s attention quickly. Below are several tips that will help align your body language with the words in your speech:
- Stand upright, in an open posture, because audiences won’t take you seriously if you are slouching.
- Don’t cross your arms when you talk. The only exception is to emphasize a point in your speech.
- Use your hands strategically. Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Use your hands to make points, but when you’re not using them to make points it’s fine to keep them at your side.
- Be strategic about eye contact. Notice who is paying attention, and who is REALLY paying attention. Focus eye contact on the people who are really paying attention to your speech.
- Show your emotion when you talk. That includes smiling. If you can’t be emotional when you talk, neither will your audience.
One final point. It’s easier to focus on body language if you know your speech cold. I’ve been known to spend up to 40 hours practicing to deliver an important speech. If you know your speech backwards and forward, you will be free to focus on your body language when the time to face your audience arrives.
Jay Krasnow is the District 27 Public Relations Manager and a member of Challenger Toastmasters, which meets at Asahi Restaurant in Courthouse Plaza, 2500 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite G,, Arlington, Va., at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month.