Movement as Speech: 3-Part Series on Nonverbal Communication

Jul 13th, 2012 / Presentations / , , ,

Isaac Castillo is leading a 3-part series about public speaking skills and nonverbal communication for evaluators. Isaac has taught public speaking and debate at the high school and college levels, and he was an All American debater before entering the evaluation field.
He writes, “When presenting in person, many people focus intently on what they will say and on the slides or other content that they will present visually.  However, there is an equally important component of in-person presentations that can greatly improve your affect on the audience:  nonverbal communication and body language.   In this three part blog series, we will cover how you can make the most of your movement, your hands, and your eyes to improve your presentation.” I hope you enjoy learning some of Isaac’s strategies.  — Ann Emery
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Part 2: Movement as Speech

Isaac Castillo, Movement as Speech


How and when you move around a presentation space can greatly improve your presentation – particularly when speaking to a large audience.   Far too often, speakers remain rooted to a podium or table – using it as some form of crutch or security blanket.   But leaving those safe confines (if done effectively) can further emphasize your points and keep your audience engaged.   How can you make sure you are using movement most effectively in your presentations?  Here are some tips…..
First, plan out where you are going to move to during your presentation.  Try to get to your presentation space early and look at the layout.   Is there ample space for you to move from one side of the room to the other?  Are there chairs and obstacles in the way?  Will the projector shine in your eyes if you stand in a particular spot?  Actually walk the space and make a determination if there are bad spots to move through and avoid them.
Second, reconsider things once people show up.  If you end up with a crowded space, or many people in the front, you may want to limit the total area where you will move.   Conversely, in a very open space that is not crowded, you’ll want to move more to keep everyone’s attention and to make the room feel smaller.
Finally, remember to move with a purpose.  Do not wander across the room or pace across the stage.  Move to make a point or to keep the audience engaged.   If you find yourself wandering during a presentation stay still for several minutes and then only move again when there is a natural break in your content.
Additional resources:  this blog post offers some interesting things to keep in mind when considering movement for your presentation:  http://www.nosweatpublicspeaking.com/non-verbal-communication-element-5-body-movement/
Tips for Beginners:   Make yourself move at a certain time!  Keep an eye on your time, and remind yourself to move at certain time intervals.  When I first began speaking regularly, I would make myself move every 5 minutes.   Moving at certain intervals keeps your audience engaged (since they should be following you with their eyes) and also provides good natural breaks in the flow of your presentation.
Tips for Veterans:   Match verbal transitions with movement transitions.  Movement in a presentation is best done when it complements your words – so try to match your movement around a room with good transition points in your presentation.  One of my favorite things to do is to move to emphasize important points or to transition from one concept to another.
Tips for Experts:   When appropriate, try to move into your audience.  There may be times in your presentation where moving to the back of the room, or even sitting down in the audience can help make an important point.  You could move to the back of the room to keep less interested audience members engaged or focused, or sit down next to an audience member to recreate a situation.  You will certainly get people’s attention, and hopefully add another layer to your words.
— Isaac Castillo, @isaac_outcomes

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