** When public speaking, nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal. Communication professionals would argue that it’s 90 percent more effective. The person who cut me off today on the highway understands exactly this point. Instead of wasting all my energy yelling and screaming at the person, I offered him one, small gesture that summed up all of my feelings succinctly and exactly. While you won’t be offering the same hand sign to your public speaking audience members, I’m hoping, they will pick up on others, whether you know this or not. Keep these tips in mind when you are at an event:
** Avoid angry, defensive, or suggestive nonverbal communication, such as hands in pockets, clenched fists, pointing, hands on hips, and the infamous fig leaf position where your hands are crossed in front of your groin.
** Let your words trigger your actions. If you are counting, hold out your fingers. If you say yes, nod your head.
** Use positive and inviting signs that will engage the public speaking audience, like keeping your chest open and eye contact.
** Remember to use larger and slower gestures for the bigger groups and smaller gestures if you have a small crowd, are videoconferencing, or are on television.
** Work to eliminate distracting or nervous gestures, but do not kill yourself to add new ones. They will take care of themselves and most of the time they look affected.
** Hold your hands open and wide apart to show sincerity and honesty and behind your back during question-and-answer sessions (don't overdo it).