You’ve heard the phrase before: “It’s just like riding a bike!“
Why do we say it? Because bicycling involves one of the coolest innate evolutionary human skills- muscle memory.
Whether it’s cooking a favorite dish, driving a car you’ve had for years, or playing your favorite sport, there are things we can all do without thinking. The motions are so trained into our bodies that we move without effort and with firm confidence.
That’s why body language is important in speaking. Not only does it help your audience engage with the content, but it helps you deliver it with ease and charisma. Try these tips* for adding deliberate movement into your presentation:
Add gestures to the words that matter most in your presentation. If you want to punch up the numbers, use the same gesture every time you reference that number. That’s where the muscle memory comes in!
Open your arms and chest as early as possible. If you start small, it will be a lot harder to make your gestures warm and inviting later on. Instead, challenge yourself to hit the largest movement in the first sentence, opening your arms and welcoming the audience.
Smile. When in doubt, smiling is the best facial expression to use. Just remember the tone of your presentation!
Make eye contact. People want to listen to those they feel are connecting with them. When you start an idea, look at one person in the room. Once you’ve finished that sentence or thought, move to the next!
Focus on different areas of the room. If you struggle making eye contact with a crowd, pick 3 or 4 spots around the room that are between people’s heads or just above them. Then take turns looking at those spaces to build connection.
Walk in between ideas. Never walk and talk. Instead, take two or three steps in between your ideas or sentences to physically demonstrate a transition and ease the shift in eye contact. Remember to plant and breathe before your next idea!
Practice with the movements. Thinking about them is great, but unless you practice actually doing the gestures you plan, they will be a lot harder to pull off. Practice your presentation using the same movements you want to use on stage to build confidence and lean into that muscle memory power.
Delivery is the trickiest part of giving a presentation. If you want to reach your audience in a dynamic and natural way, book a coaching session and we can help you get ready to rock the room!
The Cool Beans Team
*Adapted from Business Insider.