6 Ways to Look More Confident During a Presentation
Research shows that sending the right kinds of non-verbal communication during a presentation can help you achieve more successful outcomes. Your ideas are important, but so is your body language. People who show positive, confident body language, such as smiling, maintaining eye contact, and persuasive gesturing tend to be more successful presenters than those who display negative signals, such as fidgeting, stiff hand movements, and averted eyes. So, how can you send out the same signals – and hopefully generate the same success? These 6 positions are indicators of effective, persuasive body language:
The first one is the box. Early in Bill Clinton’s political career he would punctuate his speeches with big, wide gestures that made him appear untrustworthy. To help him keep his body language under control, his advisors taught him to imagine a box in front of his chest and belly, and contain his hand movements within it. Since then, “the Clinton box” has become a popular term in the field.
A second technique is called “holding the ball.” Gesturing as if you are holding a basketball between your hands is an indicator of confidence and control, as if you almost literally have the facts at your fingertips. Steve Jobs frequently used this position in his speeches.
Pyramid hands is another way to control your body language. When people are nervous, their hands often flit about and fidget. When they’re confident, their hands are still. One way to accomplish this is to clasp both hands together in a relaxed pyramid. But beware of overuse or pairing it with domineering or arrogant facial expressions. The idea is to show you’re relaxed, not smug.
You can also try using a wide stance. How people stand is a strong indicator of their mindset. When you stand in a strong and steady position, with your feet about a shoulder width apart, it signals that you feel in control.
A palms-up gesture indicates openness and honesty. Oprah makes strong use of this during her speeches. She is a powerful, influential figure, but also appears willing to connect with the people she is speaking to, be it one person or a crowd of thousands.
And finally, palms down can be viewed positively, too. It signifies strength, authority and assertiveness. Barack Obama has often used it to calm a crowd right after moments of rousing oration.
The next time you give a presentation, try to record it, then review the video with the sound off, watching only your body language. How did you stand and gesture? Did you use any of these positions? If not, think about how you might do so the next time you’re in front of an audience, or even just speaking to your boss or a big client. Practice in front of a mirror, then with friends, until these positions feel natural.
Non-verbal communication won’t necessarily make or break you as a leader, but it can help you achieve more successful outcomes.