Chapter 4: Stand and Deliver
- Posture and Stance: If you're ready to deliver your speech, you need to stand tall. Stand with your shoulders back, chest out, and stomach pulled in.
Make sure your feet are shoulder length apart and that your weight is equally distributed on both feet.
According to research, an erect posture demonstrates confidence and physically promotes an environment for a fuller voice.
- Gestures and Movement: Use gestures to emphasize an opinion or idea or express a thought. Gestures add expression and interest and help maintain the audience's attention.
If you're going to use gestures, they need to be natural because your audience will be able to pick up on staged actions.
You may be naturally moved to show a demonstration, communicate the space of a particular item using your hands, or use your fingers to coordinate the number you're currently talking about if you're discussing a rundown.
If you find your hands are just getting in the way, hold onto the podium or keep your hands in your pockets.
Be sure to put only one coin in your pockets so it doesn't jingle and so you can give your fingers something to hold onto while they wait for the conclusion of your speech.
There are some gestures you should never do when delivering a speech, those include scratching your head, twisting your hair, hitting the lectern,
and doing anything that will draw your audience's attention from you to the object you're focusing on.
For speeches to an international audience, find out if there are any offensive gestures to that particular culture. You'd be surprised how many common American gestures are insulting to other groups.
For example, the
Thumbs up symbol means
Up yours, pal! in Middle Eastern countries.
In Thailand, Iraq, Sardinia, South America, and West Africa, the same symbol has the same meaning as the middle finger does here in America.
Make sure your movements are purposeful whether it be a turn of the head or a movement from a few steps from the lectern.
As you move away from the lectern and closer to the audience, you're removing the artificial barrier between you and them. For smaller groups, coming from behind a podium helps you create a personal relationship with them.
If you can't move fully—maybe you have a microphone attachment and you're being videotaped—you still can make a connection from a podium by leaning forward from the waist and making a few gestures with your hands.
As long as you don't overdo it, hand gestures can add interest and flair to your presentation.
- Body Language: Your body language is key to giving a successful speech. Make it a point to look at the audience and smile when appropriate.
Use your body language to underscore excitement and passion for your subject matter. Be conscious of your movements and avoid random pacing because unnecessary steps or sways just distract your audience.
Other random gestures like clicking your pen or crossing your arms can also interfere with your message.
- Facial Expression: Your facial expression should be natural. In most cases, people appreciate a pleasant facial expression throughout a speech.
But also, ensure your expressions are appropriate for the content you're delivering.
- Appearance: Clothing counts when it comes to public speaking.
A Roper Organization Study found that women notice the clothes that other women and men wear, while men are more interested checking out a woman's physique than the attire. Men did notice clothing when it came to other men.
For a great impression, dress neat, clean, and comfortable, as well as appropriate for the presentation.