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Category Archives for "Body Language"

Apr 18

The Secret Sauce for Top Presenters? Try Eye Contact

By Briohny Williams | Body Language

It's Showtime!

If you've been following along at home, we started by building eye contact into our preparation and have asked for feedback to improve before the big day.

Eye contact is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.

On the day, ensure you’re in the room in advance of the presentation to familiarize yourself with the set up and nail down any final logistical details.

Once you’ve done this, if the format allows, talk to people that will be in the audience, and any of your “supporters” that are in the room. Even if you freeze, your supporters are not going to mind you pausing and taking a moment to remember where you’re up to in your presentation.

And breathe..

When it’s time, take a deep, calm breath and take your place.

Do not start speaking until you have your feet firmly planted shoulder width apart, you have the audience’s attention and you have your opening lines ready.

Depending on the size of your audience, you will need to use different movements, however let’s think about 2 common scenarios:

  • 1
    The boardroom / meeting room, up to around 20 people seated around a table. You may be seated or standing at the front of the room, or perhaps you’re around the table too. Wherever you are sitting, consider that the “front” of the room and look to the “back” of the room, and then at various points down both sides of the table. Alternate which side of the table you are looking at, and then to the back of the room again.
  • 2
    Theatre or auditorium seating, with rows of chairs in front of you. You are standing at the front of the room, perhaps with a lectern (though preferably not to make the most of all your body language tools).
  • Visualize a clock, and look first at the front row of the seating (6), move your eyes to the left (10), to the far back (12), to the right (3) and then towards the front again (5). 
  • No matter where the audience is sitting, if you move through these five points in random order throughout your presentation, everyone will feel your gaze at some point. 
  • Before too long, you won’t need to use the clock system, however this is handy when you are establishing new habits.

Read the Room

Let yourself really look at the audience, observe their body language.

Are they leaning back, checking their emails, talking to their neighbour? Time to change your volume, pace or ask a question.

Or are they looking back at you, leaning forward, nodding? Add emphasis, pause and let your message sink in. 

There may be moments of both throughout your presentation, and if you’re not looking you will not notice! The key is to know when you may need to adjust by keeping an eye on your audience and knowing how to adjust based on the messages they are sending you.

Don't Send False Messages

No matter how well you know your topic or how well regarded you are for the other work you do, if you do not make eye contact there is the very real chance that others will mistake this for lack of confidence, potentially lowering your credibility, and almost definitely boring your audience. Look up, look around, and make sure you use this extremely powerful tool at your disposal.

Radiate confidence, connect with your audience and boost your credibility and authenticity through the roof.

If you missed how to prepare and rehearse with eye contact, learn how you can anticipate and overcome nerves and anxiety by visualising your audience while you rehearse. 

Mar 30

Make Eye Contact Your Secret Weapon

By Briohny Williams | Body Language

Why is public speaking so terrifying?

The nerves, not knowing what to do with (undoubtedly sweaty) hands, and not knowing where to look when you’re are in the spotlight. Trust me, it’s not staring at your notes or at the projector screen behind you!

If any of this sounds familiar, chances are you could improve your presentations, and start to use the opportunity to have a conversation with your audience and really land your message.

Eye contact is one of the most powerful, and totally within your control, weapons you have at your disposal.

Not only will you be able to “read the room”, you can also use eye contact to connect with your audience and boost your credibility and authenticity through the roof.

So, how to complete this terrifying task? Let’s split it into two; preparation and showtime.

Preparation

Prepare your presentation and once you have pulled together your content, which may include slides, it’s time to create your notes and rehearse. Not only will you be able to hear how your words are coming together, you can ensure your notes are going to work for you on the day, and also practice the all-important eye contact.

Try this eye contact exercise

  1. Find a space to rehearse your presentation. Ideally, you should have a mirror, plus 2 post-it notes that you can place at least one meter on either side of your mirror to give you a few reference points for your “audience”. Place the notes at a height that will replicate the audience eye level (or just not really high or really low if you’re not sure where the audience will be).
  2. Try to replicate the presentation environment; if you will be standing on stage, rehearse standing up. If you’re on a panel or presenting a webinar, you may be sitting down.
  3. Set up your smart phone camera to record your presentation, ideally next to the mirror so it captures your full body from the front on.
  4. Time to present! Scan your eyes to the mirror and notes you’ve set up during the presentation. Preferably, move your eyes in a controlled but natural scan around the room. If you continuously move your eyes from point 1, to 2, to 3, it will likely look staged and unnatural. Do a full run through your presentation, including the introduction, middle and conclusion.
  5. Watch your video. Yup, it will initially be the most horrible thing you’ve done all week. But tell me, once you get past seeing yourself on camera, what do you see?

When you review your video

  • Are your notes clear and summarized to a point that you are not reading them?
  • Do you need to practice your content more to refer to your notes less?
  • Are you feeling confident and interested in your topic? If you don’t have conviction in your topic, why should other people care? Perhaps you need a stronger introduction or think about the structure of the presentation.

If you’re happy(ish) with how you did first time, up the ante a little by asking one or two colleagues, family members or your dog to listen to your next presentation rehearsal.

  • Be sure to record the presentation again, and when you review your latest rehearsal also watch your first rehearsal again. Have you made progress, what else could you tweak?
  • Ask for feedback. Let your reviewers know that you are open to any feedback (structure, content, body language), however you are specifically looking to improve your eye contact so you will definitely want to hear about that. Your dog will find a way to let you know what she thinks!

Next, it’s showtime! Now that you’ve prepared with extra focus on eye contact, you’re feeling good, right?

Check back here tomorrow to read all about to put this all into action!