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7 ways to be a better communicator - by tweaking your body language

https://ideas.ted.com/7-ways-to-be-a-better-communicator-by-tweaking-your-body-language/

ideas.ted.com

7 ways to be a better communicator - by tweaking your body language
This post is part of TED's "How to Be a Better Human" series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here.

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Misunderstanding body language

Contrary to popular belief, body language in the context of public speaking is more than hand and arm gesture.

It means adjusting the way we stand, move and smile to capture and hold the attention of an audience.

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This post is part of TED's "How to Be a Better Human" series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community;browse through all the posts here.

Part of our fear is about what we're going to say, but the other part is about how we're going to say it, according to communications expert David JP Phillips (TEDxZagreb Talk: The 110 techniques of communication and public speaking ). Phillips has spent years analyzing 5,000 public speakers to identify what moves work - and which ones don't - when talking to an audience.

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What puts an audience off

  • We indicate that we are feeling threatened when we take a step back or we show any sign of a closed body language.
  • Crossing our arms also shows nervousness and it puts our audience in a defensive mode.
  • Your end up showing that you feel superior to the rest of the room if you tilt your head backward.

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One of Phillips' favorite mottos when it comes to body language is: "It's a skill, not a talent." He believes that anyone can become a great public speaker, even the most awkward and nervous of us. He says that a good first step is to simply become more tuned in to your everyday body language. Learn what gestures you tend to use to get your point across. Once you've gotten familiar with your existing body language vocabulary, you can start changing it and expanding it. "My most practical tip is to pick one to three skills and practice them every day until they become part of your natural way of communicating."

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Match your gestures to your message

Match your gestures to your words.
We are visual creatures, and any movement used in the right way in this direction will spark the attention of your audience. Just try not to abuse this rule.

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Give your hands a break

Most of us don't really know what to do with our hands while talking. And this may add the nervousness of the public speaking experience.
It's ok to just leave them by your sides when you’re not using them.

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Signaling empathy

When you’re trying to show empathy, you tilt your head to one side. And good listeners are head tilters.
You can give the same impression by tilting your head even when you're the one that's doing the talking.

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Genuine smiles

Smiling with your whole face will make your audience feel more at ease and will get them to respond positively to your message.
Don't fake it though. Just visualize happy things or think of a person that usually brings the smile on your face.

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Don’t panic

Even if you don't remember what you have to say next, don't act on that fear that hits you and avoid to tense up.
To recover from this moment, adopt an open posture, take deep breaths, talk slowly and smile. It will make you feel more comfortable.

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Practice

To become great at public speaking, you have to practice becoming tuned in to your everyday body language.
Become familiar with your usual gestures and movements and then you will be able to start making improvements.

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