For a good PowerPoint presentation you also need the right body language

Excellent PowerPoint slides are needed for every presentation today. Mediocre performance now hardly stands a chance of success with the public. But not only the individual slides have to achieve top quality. The speaker must also present the slides perfectly. That’s why a good PowerPoint presentation includes equally good body language.

Afterwards one is usually wiser. I’ve had clients fairly frequently that we’ve helped with the professional design of their slides. In doing so, I regularly pointed out that the finished set of slides must also be presented professionally afterwards. “Yes, we know, Mr. Garten,” I was then usually answered. “This isn’t the first time our speakers have done this, is it?” It was not uncommon for these same customers to call some time later because their presentation was not the success they had hoped for. Somehow the respective speaker failed to inspire the audience. They had realized that a good PowerPoint presentation must also be well presented.

Good slides alone do not make a good PowerPoint presentation

Just as important as good PowerPoint slides, is the proper presentation of content. This places a major task on the speaker. It must convey the individual messages in an entertaining and convincing manner. It sounds logical, but it’s not quite that simple. Far too often, actually good presentations are ruined by poor moderation. Some speakers stand on the stage as if paralyzed and recite their sentences motionless. Others fidget around too wildly and try to fake a dynamic, which then looks fake and quickly gets annoying. Unfortunately, this is not exactly the best way to transport the content of a presentation to the audience. If the speaker fails the audience with his way of presenting, the best slides will not save the situation. Good presenting can be learned. However, it does not arise by itself. If you are preparing an important business presentation or sales pitch, you should think very carefully about how you want to present.

With the right body language you can lend force to your arguments

The body language of different cultures differs, sometimes considerably. In some countries, people gesticulate very animatedly during a conversation. In Northern Europe, gestures tend to be used more sparingly in conversation. There are also differences in body language from person to person. But how do you use body language appropriately to deliver a really good presentation? To do this, you can look at the Internet a few real stage professionals. There are countless lectures on YouTube that you can watch as an example. This will give you some initial insight into how the professionals do it. You will notice that body language on a stage is sometimes quite different from the gestures we use when talking to a colleague. In German-speaking countries, we usually used our hands and arms rather sparingly during conversations. It is simply unfamiliar for many to use them. On stage, your arms and hands are important communication tools. Inexperienced speakers, but also some experienced speakers, often do not know what to do with their hands during a presentation. The audience recognizes such insecurities very quickly. For example, those who try to make their hands disappear into their trouser pockets tend to look boorish, disinterested and disrespectful to the audience. Just as bad is simply letting your arms hang down your body as if they were paralyzed. This also applies to all other embarrassment gestures, such as folding the hands in front of the lower body. Used consciously, however, your body can help you reinforce and emphasize your words. You can use your arms and hands specifically as a means of communication. Gestures and movements that you use professionally can give your statements considerably more weight.

Stand upright during your presentation

You don’t have to stand stiffly in the area as if you swallowed a stick, but make sure your posture is upright. A good presentation needs a speaker who radiates presence and energy. So you better not stand bent over or too relaxed in front of your audience. Don’t keep changing your footing, or you’ll look insecure. Try to take a good, secure stance, take your shoulders back a bit and keep your upper body still.

Use the entire podium for your presentation

If you have a little more space available for your presentation, you can also use the area. You may have room for a flip chart on which to sketch something. Also, take the opportunity to take a few steps toward your audience. Try not to disappear statically behind a lectern, but move your body calmly across the stage. This adds variety and keeps your curiosity high about what you’ll do next. Here, too, the correct dosage is important. For a good PowerPoint presentation, you need to know exactly the degree between dynamic and hectic. Otherwise, too much movement will be judged by the audience as fidgeting.

Adapt body language to the size of the room – The 3-joint rule by Thomas Skipwith

If you want to give a really good PowerPoint presentation, you can learn a lot from the well-known speaker and coach Thomas Skipwith. It teaches a concept of using hands and arms judiciously to support a presentation. He argues the following thesis: body language also has a volume. If you are speaking in front of a small group of people, you should gesticulate correspondingly little, but purposefully. During presentations in front of large audiences, for example, smaller gestures are no longer recognizable by the audience in the back seats. In this case, the hand and arm movements should be larger. His rule of thumb is: 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 are used arms 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.

The right body language for a good PowerPoint presentation – what to do?

Safety comes only with the necessary experience. Unfortunately, that is little consolation. However, there is an opportunity to seek support to achieve success quickly. A first step could be to ask a few good colleagues to take a look at your performance during a “dry run”. You can just as easily ask friends or family members. That alone can take you a long way. You will get first important hints. “Do you realize that you’re constantly running your hand through your hair?” or “You’re fidgeting with your legs all the time,” could then perhaps be possible feedback. This is frustrating at first, but brings the first important clues that you can react to right away. Even more effective is a training session with a presentation expert. In doing so, you get very quickly to significant improvements.

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Referent und PowerPoint Trainer Matthias Garten

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 10,000 professional PowerPoint presentations for over 150 industries since 1993.