5 Types Of Body Language To Avoid During A Presentation

Business Practices and Tactics / Presentation Basics

Types of body language to avoid during a presentationIf you’ve given at least one presentation, you probably have a long list of things to do: speak loudly and clearly, maintain eye contact, dress professionally and, of course, have a polished slide deck that supports your remarks.

Yet when it comes to delivering presentations, there are also quite a few things you should avoid, especially when it comes to body language. After all, you don’t want to undermine your expertise or your presentation’s message by turning your audience off with body language faux pas. Before you give your next presentation, check over this list to make sure you aren’t unknowingly committing any of the following public speaking sins.

5 Types of Body Language To Avoid While Presenting

Looking down. Nothing projects a feeling of insecurity and anxiety like refusing to make eye contact with your audience. Regardless of how nervous you might be, don’t look down or away. Instead, let your eyes scan the audience and make eye contact with various audience members to let them know you’re paying as much attention to them as they are to you.

Back turned. You may find yourself turning away from your audience to reference your presentation notes or a certain slide. Yet you should avoid showing the audience your back, which creates a sense of separation and also makes it hard for the audience to hear you. If you’ll need to reference various materials, try to put them in a handy spot before the presentation so you’ll be able to consult your notes without a noticeable interruption.

Limit filler words. Few things are more distracting while listening to someone speak than the overuse of filler words like “um,” “uh,” and “like.” If you’re worried that you may be using too many filler words, run through your presentation with a friend or colleague so that you can get some honest feedback on your speaking. Plus, the more comfortable you are with your information, the more natural you’ll feel when covering the presentation material.

Fidgeting. Whether it’s playing with your hair, cracking your knuckles, picking your cuticles or other motions, don’t fidget during your presentation. Like a lack of eye contact, fidgeting projects an air of anxiety and makes you seem much less trustworthy. Keep your hands at your side. Or, if a podium is available, consider using it so that you can rest your hands and arms on the podium’s surface.

Excessive hand gestures. Sure, watching an animated presenter is much more entertaining than someone who stands in one place and barely blinks while talking. Yet there can be too much of a good thing, and that applies when using hand gestures. You may want to use your hands to emphasize a particular point, but be careful that your hands aren’t constantly moving and resulting in a distraction, rather than as supportive gestures. If you’re worried that your hands are a little too overactive, make a conscious effort to keep your arms loose and your hands by your side so that the emphasis is on your words, not the motions of your hands.

As with most things in life, practice makes perfect—and that includes giving presentations. The more talks you give, the more comfortable you’ll get in front of people—and the more engaging and polished you’ll appear, too.

Are there any body language faux pas that you work to avoid while presenting? I’d love to hear your input, so feel free to leave a comment.