You rehearsed your speech thoroughly and mastered that all-important body language. But when you delivered the talk, you sensed little enthusiasm in your audience. What’s going on? You’re probably coming across as artificial.
The reason: When we rehearse specific body language elements, we use them incorrectly during the actual speech slightly after speaking the associated words. Listeners feel something’s wrong, because during natural conversation, body language emerges before the associated words. This come through as fake or not authentic which will be off-putting.
Therefore in order to demonstrate your authenticity, don’t rehearse your body language. Instead, imagine meeting four aims for your presentation:
- Being open to your audience
- Connecting with your audience
- Being passionate about your topic
- Listening to your audience
When you rehearse this way, you’ll genuinely experience these feelings when delivering your speech. Your body language will emerge at the right moment. And your listeners will know you’re the real thing.
1.BEING OPEN TO YOUR AUDIENCE
To rehearse being open, practice your speech by envisioning what it would be like to give your presentation to someone you’re completely comfortable with. The person could be your spouse, a close friend, or your child. Notice especially what this feels like: This is the emotional state you want to be in when you deliver the speech.
This state leads to more natural body language, such as smiles and relaxed shoulders. And the behaviors in turn lead to more candid expression of your thoughts and feelings.
Also, try as best as you can not be too nervous, hence, the practices are important in managing your nervousness level.
2.CONNECTING WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
As you practice your speech, think about wanting to engage with your listeners. Imagine that a young child you know well isn’t heeding you. You want to capture and keep his attention however you can.
In such situations, you don’t strategize; you simply do what feels natural and appropriate. For example, you increase the intensity or volume of your voice or move closer to your listener. During your actual speech, these behaviors will happen naturally and with the right timing.
3.BEING PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR TOPIC
While rehearsing, ask yourself what in your topic you feel deeply about: What’s at stake? What results do you want your presentation to produce? Focus not on what you want to say but on why you’re giving the speech and how you feel about it. Let the underlying emotion come out in every word you deliver during rehearsal. You’ll infuse the actual speech with some of that passion and come across as more human and engaging.
4.“LISTENING” TO YOUR AUDIENCE
To practice fulfilling this aim, think about what your listeners will likely be feeling when you step up to begin your presentation. Are they excited about the future? Worried about bad news? As you practice, imagine watching them closely, looking for signs of their response to you.
During your presentation, you’ll be more prepared to identify the emotions your listeners are sending to you via nonverbal means. And you’ll be able to respond to them appropriately; for example, by picking up the pace, varying your language, asking an impromptu question, or even eliminating or changing parts of your talk.