Good communication is a key skill in any workplace. Whether you are 55 years and older or you are younger than 55, these tips can help you communicate in a positive manner.
First, remember that you communicate most loudly with something that’s non-verbal. It’s your body language. In fact, studies show 60 to 70 percent of your believability comes from your body language, which is a much higher percentage than the words you say or even how you say them. The beauty of positive body language is it can be learned, and you can become natural at it — especially if you know good ways to get started.
If the studies say your highest form of credibility comes from body language, here are ways to ensure yours is positive, especially during a presentation.
Standing is optimum. Sitting or standing behind a podium conceals at least 50 percent of you, which robs you of your most powerful way of communicating and robs your audience of receiving your communication in the way you want it to be perceived. More energy is conveyed while standing, not only because they can see you, but because people respond to others who come across as alive and energetic. I’ll save sitting body language for another topic, because there are circumstances when it’s unavoidable.
Stand up tall and ground yourself. Standing with your legs shoulder or hip-width apart distributes your weight evenly and gives you a solid foundation, which gives your audience even more reason to trust what you say. Ladies, high heels pitch you forward and can throw you off balance, so opt for shoes that will make you feel grounded and stable.
Take advantage of the space around you. Use your hands, arms and elbows to help illustrate your points (within reason, of course). You do not have to gesture as dramatically as an opera singer, but explore your full range based on the size of your audience and venue. If you are an athlete or take exercise classes, yoga or Pilates, try some moves at home to experiment with how it makes you look and feel to use your hands and arms more expressively.
Engage. Look in the eye at the folks you want to influence, and connect with them. When your message sinks in, you can get a slight nod of the head or an eye blink – you will be able to tell that the message was received. If someone advises you that good eye contact involves looking above their heads to the back of the room or counting to five as you make eye contact, remember that can come across as being rigid, a stare down and, well, silly.
Videotape yourself while presenting. Then, take advantage of what it can teach you. The video will show how you come across to others versus what you think you are portraying with your body language.
Strong positive body language helps your listeners focus more intently on you and what you are saying, so spend some time improving the one area that speaks louder than words and the beauty of it all. It is learnable, and once you feel it, you instantly improve.
As owner and president of PresentingPlus! LLC, Kate Tunison helps clients develop confidence and skills as public speakers and business communicators. Based in Alpharetta, PresentingPlus! Works with clients in the Atlanta area and nationwide. Contact Tunison at www.presentingplus.com.