“Your body language must match the content of your presentation”
One can experience again and again how actually good presentations are spoiled by inappropriate moderation.
For example, world firsts are presented in front of a large audience and the presenter stands stock-still on the stage and reels off his presentation in a monotone voice. Then there are speakers who offer great theater when presenting more mundane content. They gesticulate wildly with their arms and shout so that you want to cover your ears. Unfortunately, the content of a presentation is no longer optimally transported to the audience. In the first case people fall asleep, in the second case they are annoyed and more interested in how long they have to put up with it. The speaker’s voice and gestures (body language) are a decisive factor in conveying content convincingly. They are stylistic devices too important to be ignored.
The right body language underlines your arguments
In various cultures, people gesticulate very vividly in conversations in order to emphasize what has been said once again and to emphasize its meaning. In German-speaking countries, we usually used our hands and arms rather sparingly during conversations. It is simply unfamiliar for many to use them. Inexperienced speakers, but also some “old hands”, don’t really know where to leave their hands during a presentation. This sometimes has fatal consequences for the company’s own performance. If you try to “park” one or even both hands in your pockets, you will quickly appear boorish and disrespectful. With the alternative of simply letting both arms dangle down from the body, you look awkward and don’t convince your audience either. Crossing the fingers in front of the body or the famous “Merkel’s rhombus” are also rather emergency solutions and are also prohibited for a professional appearance.
If you do not consciously pay attention to your posture during your presentation, on the one hand you risk simply cutting a bad figure, and on the other hand you give up an important communication tool without any need. Gestures, used in the right doses, will give your words much more weight and focus the audience’s attention more strongly on you. Take a look at a few performances of top speakers on “Youtube” and study their posture and body language.
The 3-joint rule by Thomas Skipwith
High-profile speaker and coach Thomas Skipwith teaches a concept for using hands and arms wisely to support a presentation. His interesting thesis is that body language also has a volume. When speaking in front of a small group of people, gestures should be few but purposeful in terms of body language. During presentations in front of a large audience, small hand movements cannot be recognized by all spectators. Here, the movements must be correspondingly larger. Thomas Skipwith’s rule of thumb is therefore: small audience – small movements. In a small circle, the hands are used only up to the wrist. With a medium-sized audience of about 20-30 people, the hands and arms are used up to the elbow. For large audiences, i.e. several hundred people, the upper arms up to the shoulder joints can also be used for communication.
Of course, these are only guidelines and you will need to practice over and over again yourself to understand how you “come across” most effectively.
Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Informatiker Matthias Garten as the expert for multimedia presentations and professional PowerPoint presentations knows about the art of professional slide design. He is an entrepreneur, speaker (TOP 100 Speaker), trainer (TOP 100 Excellence Trainer), multiple book author, presentation coach (presentation training), member of the GSA and Club 55, organizer of the Presentation Conference, Presentation Bootcamp and Presentation Rocket Day. In addition to PowerPoint and presentation training, he inspires and advises companies to present themselves even more effectively and thus stand out from competitors. He is the business owner of the presentation and PowerPoint agency smavicon Best Business Presentations and with his team has created over 15,000 professional PowerPoint presentations for over 150 industries since 1993.