I ran across an interview recently with Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor who says that what you say is less important than how you say it. This is a concept we communication enthusiasts have been studying for some time. She had some good tips for public speakers. Her first suggestion:
Good Posture! Really though, would you like to listen to this woman?
Posture plays a crucial role in how your audience perceives you! We tend to equate posture with power. If you want your audience to buy into what you are saying, you must exude power. Your posture is the very first form of communication that will either turn people on to your message, or turn them off.
Cuddy’s second suggestion:
Expand your body. Try to widen your stance and by all means try not to cross your arms. One of my professors gave me a great tip, albeit humorous at the time. She told me to “never touch your body” when giving a speech. This is amazingly difficult to do, especially when you are nervous, but it is a distraction and shows the audience that you are indeed nervous. For example, I remember a student of mine who would constantly flip her hair with her hand during her speech. When I asked her about it afterward, she had no recollection of even touching her hair. I know it sounds crazy, but it is something you have to actually practice not doing! Another reason I found my professor’s comment comical is because her husband, who was also a professor of mine, would constantly rub his rather large belly while giving a lecture. Talk about a distraction!
So, in order to gain credibility from your audience remember to stand up straight, widen your stance, and keep your hands to themselves.