Mr. LeBeau tells VOA that body language includes posture, eye contact and gestures - how you move your hands or arms. “For the physical message, a lot of non-native5 presenters6 are going to have problems with posture, and eye contact, and gestures. I think a lot of this comes from nervousness7. Not only are they nervous because they’re doing a presentation, but in addition to8 that they’re really nervous because of their English, and their lack of confidence9, lack of experience in their English, they’re trying to figure out the grammar9, what I want to say, and they’re having all kinds of difficulty doing that, and also controlling their body.”
We have all seen11 nervous presenters in classrooms and meetings. One effect of being nervous is moving from side to side12. A presenter does not need to stand perfectly still13. In fact an audience can lose interest in a speaker who does not move. How a speaker moves is important. Whole-body14 movement should be15 slow and planned to command attention. Such16 movement helps to communicate confidence. New public speakers know that they should look at the audience while17 they speak. But they look at their notes on a paper or at the screen18 if they have an electronic presentation.
“With posture, the typical problem that I see is that they are often moving back and forth19, and they’re not facing20 the audience. They’ll often be facing the white board or the screen with slides and be talking to that rather than talking to21 the audience. Same thing22 with eye contact – they find23 it really, really difficult - some of them find it really difficult – making eye contact with the audience, because they’ll be looking at their notes, they’ll be looking at their computer, they’ll be looking at the screen, they will be looking at the floor24. The problem of having notes, and trying to talk from notes , often is a big problem. So they have trouble25 with eye contact.”
Charles LeBeau says the best way to avoid26 this problem is to use images and few words27 for notes instead of28 sentences. The image should help communicate the point you want to make. Writing a few words with the image on your slide helps you remember that point. Then you can look at the audience while speaking.
“Another problem I’ve noticed is oftentimes29 there’ll be30 a lot of sentences or words on the slides and no images. So I think the key is if they can figure out what images to use that will communicate their message, because the images will communicate faster and more clearly than words.” Holding on31 to notes also makes it more difficult for a speaker to gesture naturally.
Mr. LeBeau’s book, “Speaking of Speech32,” discusses this. He says gestures should support33 the point the speaker is making. For example, when talking about three ideas, hold up three fingers to introduce them34. Then hold up one finger while explaining the first idea, two fingers for the second, and so on35.
Other experts advise36 moving your body to a different place for each idea. Stay in place until you finish making that point. Then move to the next place on the stage37 or in the room.
Mr. LeBeau says a good way to change your body language is to make a video of your presentation and watch yourself38. This helps you to become aware of39 what you need to change.
“I find often times, the gestures don’t look natural.They are poorly delivered40, or they are just nonexistent41. Students can video themselves, and then look at it, they can clearly see: “Oh, My! I had no idea that I looked like that42! My posture! I’m moving all over the place.
Look at my hips43. It’sgoing back and forth and back and forth. And my eye contact! All of these other goofy things that I’m doing without noticing it, or thinking that ‘well, it’s not such a big deal45.’ But if I can see it I can realize46 oh, ‘ok, I see, I see, I see what I’m doing.’ I think that helps them change more quickly. So they can do their presentation again, and work on changing, then they can compare, and they can see that they can make quick improvement47.”
An important part of public speaking is practice48. When you practice remember these important tips: Be aware of49 your posture, eye contact, and gestures. Record yourself using a phone, tablet, or camera. Watch yourself and plan what you will do to improve. Look for50 opportunities to speak and gain51 more confidence. Mr. LeBeau says his students find the physical message the easiest thing to change in order to become52 a better presenter.
“The first thing that we deal with53 is the physical message. And the reason we do that is so students can have a real positive experience really quickly. You know, I looked like54 this in the beginning and now, after one day, or a couple of55 classes, now I look like this - I do look much better! I think it helps them feel more positive about the experience. It helps them see that ‘yes, I can do this, I can look confident.’ So, I think that it’s the easiest to change, and maybe56 the most important thing to deal with first.”
In our next Speaking Tips, we will look at the visual message, the visual aids57 you show the audience, and the story message, how to organize the ideas you present.
1. subject = assunto
2. successful = bem sucedido
3. has written = escreveu
4. several = diversos
5. non-native = não nativos
6. presenters = apresentadores
7. nervousness = nervosismo
8. in addition to = além de
9. lack of confidence = falta de confiança
10. figure out the grammar = descobrir a gramática
11. seen = visto
12. moving from side to side = mexendo-se de um lado para o outro
13. stand perfectly still = ficar perfeitamente imóvel
14. Whole-body = do corpo todo
15. should be = deveria ser
16. Such = tal
17. While = enquanto
18. Screen = tela
19. moving back and forth = movendo-se para a frente e para trás
20. facing = encarando
21. rather than talking to = ao invés de conversar com
22. Same thing = a mesma coisa
23. Find = achar
24. Floor = chão
25. Trouble = problema, dificuldade
26. the best way to avoid = a melhor forma de evitar
27. few words = poucas palavras
28. instead of = ao invés de
29. oftentimes = muitas vezes
30. there’ll be = haverá
31. Holding on = segurar
32. Speech = discurso
33. Support = apoiar
34. introduce them = apresenta-los
35. and so on = e assim por diante
36. advise = aconselham
37. stage = palco
38. watch yourself = assistir a si mesmo
39. to become aware of = tornar-se consciente de
40. poorly delivered = mal entregue
41. just nonexistent = simplesmente não existente
42. looked like that = parecia assim
43. hips = quadric
44. goofy things = coisas tolas
45. it’s not such a big deal = “não é grande coisa”
46. realize = perceber
47. quick improvement = melhoria rápida
48. practice = prática
49. Be aware of = esteja ciente de
50. Look for = procure
51. Gain = adquirir
52. in order to become = a fim de tornar-se
53. deal with = lidar com
54. looked like = parecer com
55. a couple of = alguns, algumas
56. maybe = talvez
57. visual aids = recursos visuais