Control your message with your body

What is your main responsibility as a speaker (and a writer for that matter)? What should be your main objective? I will give you a minute to think it...

 

Your main responsibility is this:

Make it easier for the listener (or reader) to understand you

That's it. That's your golden rule.

 

This can be done in a number of ways. One of them is through body gestures. I have some clients who speak with little movement others with a lot of movement. I also have some who get annoyed at gestures - they feel they are 'acting' or trying to be something they are not. But as Kasia Wezowski wrote:

 

'Non-verbal communication won't necessarily make or break you as a leader, but it might help you achieve more successful outcomes.'

 

What I do with my clients is break gestures down into manageable areas. Let's do this now for you.

Stress: Show what is important

Overtime you stress a word or feel it is important for the listener to understand, show some sort of body movement. You are helping your listener. You are telling your listener, 'THIS IS IMPORTANT!'.

Let's take a look at the 2017 Keynote address by Google CEO, Sunday Puchai from 1:09-1:26. The text is below and I have highlighted words that he used hand gesture to show stress.

 

'...that's because we've been focused evermore on our core mission of organizing the world's information and we are doing it for everyone and we approach it by applying deep computer science and technical insights to solve problems at scale...'

 

Notice that Sundar Pichai does not use any sort of elaborate body motions. They are simple. They are clean. They help the listener.

Keep arms in the box and hold the ball

Kasia Wezowski wrote a great piece for the Harvard Business Review entitled '6 Ways to look more confident during a presentation'. Her article focused on six main body movements that help a speaker. In our case, let us just look at the two most basic cases.

Keep arms in the box

Imagine you have a box in front of you. Move your hands only inside this box. Awkward options outside the box may make you look unnatural or worse, untrustworthy.

Hold the ball

Picture a small ball in front of you. Hold it. Grab it. It indicates confidence and that you are in full control of what you are saying.