Body Language in Public Speaking: How to Master It

Public speaking can be daunting. Even seasoned speakers can sometimes lack confidence and poise in front of a crowd. Your words may be carefully constructed, but what about your body language?

Are you making the best use of everything from your head tilt to your hand gestures to create the most impressionable, powerful performance?

It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to improving your body language for public speaking. After all, there’s so much to take into account. Which can make you even more anxious!

But never fear – in this blog post we’ll show you how to master your body language and make your public speaking more impactful. We’ll cover basics, like posture and facial expressions, to finer details, like microphone technique, to ensure you make the right impression every time.

So let’s get started on taking your public speaking to the next level – the only way is up!

Quick Answer

Using body language when giving a speech or presentation can help to convey your message more effectively and engage the audience. Make sure to avoid any nervous habits such as fidgeting and maintain good posture. Use hand gestures and facial expressions sparingly and intentionally for maximum effect.

Understanding Body Language

Understanding body language is key for any public speaker to be successful in creating an impact. On one hand, researchers suggest that body language can provide insight into a person’s true feelings, intentions and thoughts.

Whether it be positive reinforcement like a thumbs-up or negative reinforcement like facial expressions of frustration - body language always plays an important role in the understanding of communication.

Additionally, during the speaking portion of a presentation, a speaker’s posture will affect their delivery, giving off strong signals of confidence and power when done correctly. On the other hand, many people have studied nonverbal communication and report mixed findings on its accuracy. 


Our own biases as individuals tend to influence our interpretation of what we observe in another’s body language. Context can also play a big role in how we interpret cues - something that someone may consider as confident body language could easily be considered intimidating or aggressive depending on the scenario and the audience it is being given to.

Overall, understanding the basics of both verbal and nonverbal communication is essential for any successful public speaker to make an impactful statement. By understanding these essential differences between each form of speaking, a speaker can craft their presentation accurately and congruently in order to achieve their desired outcome.

Now that an understanding of body language has been discussed, the following section will discuss "What is Body Language" in further detail.

Must-Know Summary Points

Body language, both positive and negative, plays an important role in communication. Body language can influence how successful a public speaker is, as their posture not only affects delivery but also signals confidence and power.

The interpretation of nonverbal communication, however, can be affected by the individual's biases and context-dependent cues. To make a successful impact through speaking publicly, one must understand both verbal and nonverbal forms of communication.

What is Body Language?

Body language is a form of communication that uses nonverbal cues, such as posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact to convey messages. It is defined as “the behavior that one displays during communication through body movements, posture, and gestures.” 


Body language can be used to express a variety of emotions, including happiness, anger, sadness, confusion, or surprise. It is also an effective way to make a point or emphasize something important when delivering a speech.

Body language can be both beneficial and detrimental depending on the context in which it is used. For instance, standing up straight with your arms crossed applied can make you appear more authoritative or confident. On the other hand, this gesture may come off as aggressive and intimidating if the tone of your message isn't aligned with the assertive body language.

By being mindful of our body posture and movements before and during a presentation we can ensure that the message we are trying to convey is accurately interpreted by our audience. With a better understanding of how body language affects public speaking, we can use it to our advantage and create meaningful connections that foster trust and respect with our audience.

In the next section we will explore how to use body language to make your public speaking more impactful.

The Impact of Body Language

When it comes to public speaking, what we say matters, but the way we say it matters even more. Body language is a universal language and can have an immense impact on how your message is received by an audience.

Often times, before you have even said your first word, your body language has already spoken thousands of words to the audience. The lines of your face, curve of your throat, folds in your clothing and the look in your eye all speak volumes about how you are feeling and what kind of attitude you bring to the podium.

For example, if a speaker appears tense or closed-off, it may cause some audience members to become defensive or uncomfortable. But if a speaker comes across as open and confident, it helps put the audience at ease and encourages them to respond positively to what they hear.

Body language can also have numerous other nonverbal communication benefits during public speaking. For example, well-timed pauses, emphasis on certain points through gestures, and capturing attention with eye contact can all help take an average speech and turn it into something that really resonates with the listener.

On the other hand, there’s no denying that people’s perception of body language can be highly subjective. While certain body language cues such as crossed arms may be indicative of being closed off to ideas that don't align with one’s own beliefs for some people, for others crossed arms may simply mean deep concentration.


So its important to keep in mind that how we interpret someone else’s body language largely reflects our own preconceived notions rather than calling out any specific trait of another person.

The impact of body language when giving a public presentation should not be underestimated - it can turn a mediocre performance into something extraordinary by creating a connection with listeners and keeping them engaged throughout. Now let's take a closer look at how you can use body language effectively during public speaking to maximize this impact.

Body Language During Public Speaking

Body language during public speaking can have a huge influence on the delivery of your speech, as well as your overall success. The way you move and use your body to convey your message is one of the most important elements of delivering an effective presentation. Your body language can reveal how confident or hesitant you are about the material you’re conveying and how engaged or disinterested your audience is.

When speaking in front of people, maintaining an open body language can demonstrate your confidence and help put them at ease. Some people tend to cross their arms when they become nervous, which can come off as confrontational or even hostile.


Your posture should be relaxed but upright—avoid slouching or hunching over, as this comes off as unprofessional and may signal a lack of confidence in yourself and your message. On the other hand, standing too straight and rigid can also be intimidating. Standing with your feet slightly apart in an open stance conveys openness and comfort with yourself and your message.

Your facial expressions should also match what you’re saying—a grimace when telling a funny story, for example, is confusing for the audience. It’s important to stay aware of flinching or winking too much, which can make it seem like you’re not paying attention to what you’re saying or are uncomfortable with the content. Make sure to look out for any unintentional visual cues that might distract or confuse your audience.

Keeping good posture and making sure your movements coincide with the flow of your speech will enable you to project confidence and enthusiasm that will keep your audience engaged throughout the duration of your presentation.

Your facial expressions play an equally vital role in helping you get your point across efficiently so it’s important to become aware of them while speaking. With greater awareness and practice, mastering nonverbal communication during public speaking will become easier and more natural.

Next we will discuss how facial expressions and posture play key roles in how impactful a speaker is during public presentations.

Facial Expressions and Posture

The way we use facial expressions and posture when speaking publicly has a huge influence on how people perceive us. Our eyes, forehead, mouth, and chin all send organic cues to others about our feelings and thoughts.

It’s important to pay attention to the signals our faces are sending, making sure they are intentional rather than merely fleeting. Additionally, our posture speaks volumes when it comes to communicating with an audience.

One of the most important gestures that can help you connect with your audience is smiling. A charming smile can boost credibility, increase positive reactions, and help keep the atmosphere light-hearted.


On the other hand, the opposite can also be true: frowning and furrowing your eyebrows may distract or upset a room of listeners. So practice your presentation with a big smile and choose wisely when changing expressions during your speech.

In addition to facial expression, posture is essential in public speaking. Standing up straight and tall projects strength and authority while slouching signals weakness and uncertainty. By standing up with proper posture while speaking publicly you give off an impression of capability and confidence, which will make people better listen to what you have to say.

For example, when talking to an audience try planting your feet hip-width apart; this will ground yourself in your message. Slumping or swaying back-and-forth sends a negative message about self-belief that your audience can sense subconsciously; so pay attention to subtle adjustments that express dedication and seriousness for your speech topic.

Overall, facial expressions and posture play an integral role in public speaking as they set up tangible associations with the message one is trying to communicate as a speaker or presenter. Next up in this article we will discuss practical tips for utilizing body language during public speaking.

Tips for Using Body Language in Public Speaking

When preparing to give a public speech, body language plays an essential role in connecting with and impressing your audience. It can be used to emphasize key points and create the kind of lasting impression you want to make. Here are some tips for using body language effectively:

1. Stand Confidently – A confident posture expresses power, passion, and conviction. Keep your hands at your sides instead of crossed over your chest as this has been shown to make people appear more defensive and tense. Make sure your body weight is well-distributed by standing with both feet firmly planted on the ground.

2. Don’t Fidget – People tend to fidget when nervous and this can be distracting or even annoying to an audience. To combat this, practice presenting in front of a mirror so that you can become familiar with how you move and where you may need to adjust.

3. Use Intentional Gestures – If done properly, gestures can help add energy and excitement to an otherwise dull presentation. Avoid robotic gestures that don’t mean anything; practice deliberate gestures that connect with the topic or point you are making in meaningful ways for maximum impact.

4. Make Eye Contact – People love it when presenters look them directly in the eye because it makes them feel included in the action, connected to their speakers, and more likely to remember what was spoken about. Aim for 3-5 seconds of direct eye contact with each person who is listening so that you communicate strong, vibrant energy throughout the room.

By taking advantage of these speaking techniques and using meaningful gestures, powerful stances, and confident looks, you will have presented a far more impactful speech than had any of these body language methods been overlooked or neglected. Now, let's talk about common mistakes to avoid when delivering public speeches...

  • Research studies show that a speaker's body language accounts for up to 93% of their communication when presenting (although this may not be true).
  • Effective body language can help to create rapport between the presenter and the audience, leading to more effective communication
  • Studies have shown that positive body language, such as open and inviting gestures, can help increase audience engagement and understanding of the message.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Public speaking is a challenging endeavor, and even seasoned presenters can make mistakes. It can be easy to forget about the need for attentive body language if you get too caught up in your presentation. To mitigate the possibility of ‘faux pas’, it is important to understand some common blunders that can lessen the impact of your performance.

It is vital to avoid maintaining an unfavorable facial expression; for instance, scowling or yawning. Such expressions tend to leave negative impressions, making it difficult to maintain attention. Instead, try to adopt a relaxed and pleasant facial expression which will help put people at ease and keep them engaged.


Your posture is another essential aspect of body language. Don’t slouch or hunch your shoulders as this position communicates a lack of confidence or enthusiasm and disengages the audience. Aim to stand with even proportions; your feet shoulder-width apart with your chest held up and arms loose by your side. This establishes a stance that suggests dynamism, engagement, and assurance - words you want associated with yourself and your speech.

On the other hand, it is also important not to contort yourself into an over-assertive pose that may distract from the content of your address. Many speakers adopt hyperextended poses such as spreading their arms wide and pacing back-and-forth across the stage setting their audience on edge rather than inspiring them with confidence in the speaker’s message.

In conclusion, practice mindful body language when speaking publicly: maintain a friendly expression, appropriate posture, and avoid gestures that detract from what matters most -your presentation content! Building self-confidence to ensure successful public speaking requires both clever content delivery and skillful manipulation of body language – something we will explore further in the following section on building self-confidence while speaking publicly.

Building Your Self-Confidence

Confidence is the cornerstone of public speaking. It is essential for conveying effective messages and connecting with your audience. Building up your self-confidence before a speech or presentation will ensure that you are ready to deliver an impactful performance. Here are some strategic tips for increasing your self-confidence when you take the stage:

1. Practice, practice, practice – Before delivering a speech, engaging in multiple rehearsals helps individuals become more familiar and comfortable with their material. Rehearsing enables speakers to focus on specific points of their speech and practice the flow and delivery of their words with precision.

Additionally, rehearsing also provides an opportunity to perfect and enhance content that can potentially elevate the level of enthusiasm within your audience.

2. Boost your posture – Holding yourself in a “power pose” can be an effective way to channel confidence both onstage and offstage. Highlighting important moments with dramatic gesture indicates a grounded, passionate presence that leaves a lasting impression on viewers.

When people feel as if they can trust and respect who is communicating a message, it increases engagement and creates opportunities to further dialogue or discussion afterwards.

3. Set attainable goals – Curating manageable objectives for yourself is another great way to build self-confidence before going on stage. This includes building out an agenda (also known as ‘speaker notes’) that lays out talking points and bullets important sections of your presentation beforehand so that you can confidently navigate transitions between slides or topics during delivery.

Setting clear expectations beforehand not only reminds the speaker what topics are of importance, but it also offers direction so speaking becomes easier when conducting research or writing scripts ahead of time.


4. Visualize success – Visualization is another form of preparation that can have significant effects on one’s self-confidence levels prior to taking the stage. It involves creating vivid mental images related to successful performance while simultaneously reminding oneself that they have successfully conquered other speaking engagements prior preceding this one; this essentially helps make it easier transitioning from anxiousness into preparedness pre-speech day nerves.

Confidence can be seen as both an intrinsic quality associated with personality traits such as charisma, charm, poise and eloquence, as well as something environmental or situational like body language, external feedback or attitude surrounding a particular event or task at hand that contributes to overall comfortability levels onstage (or offstage).

Consequently it can be argued that one needs both external factors working in tandem with personality attributes to establish robust personal confidence capable of maximizing success onstage as a public speaker; however where people depict various levels of comfortability with how each contributes towards self-efficacy depends largely upon individual beliefs about their own character and abilities involving communication(s).

Ultimately, developing strategies for harnessing confidence for public speaking requires individuals to assess what works best for them based upon what makes them feel most prepared & competent when under pressure - that’s why it’s important to review all available options prior developing tactical plans designed to elevate public speaking performances; good luck!

Most Common Questions

How does body language emphasize content when public speaking?

Body language is an important factor when it comes to emphasizing content when public speaking. This is because people tend to take in nonverbal cues more than verbal cues. S

tudies have shown that 93% of communication is nonverbal, which means that what you do with your body language can be just as influential as the words you use.

When delivering a presentation or speech, gestures and movements can be used to emphasize key points, draw attention to certain ideas, and add depth and meaning to the content.

For example, making large hand gestures when discussing a significant idea helps communicate a powerful message, while pointing at relevant diagrams or visuals helps guide the audience’s attention toward important information.

Additionally, maintaining strong and confident posture while speaking also sends a signal of authority and helps engage listeners. Ultimately, by deliberately incorporating body language into presentations or speeches, presenters can effectively emphasize the content being presented and increase its impact on audiences.

What are some common mistakes to avoid with body language in public speaking?

One of the most common mistakes to avoid with body language in public speaking is not maintaining good posture. Keeping your head up and shoulders back shows confidence. Avoid slouching, which can make you appear uncomfortable or insecure.

Additionally, avoid excessive movements such as fidgeting, gesturing too much or rocking back and forth. These habits can be distracting to your audience and detract from the message that you are trying to get across.

Another mistake to avoid is using negative gestures and facial expressions. Too many negative expressions like frowns or eyerolls can provide a conflicting message to your audience, weakening the impact of your words.

As a speaker, it’s important to project confidence, so negative body language can be counter-productive. Smiling or looking positive while speaking will give off a confident air and help keep the atmosphere positive and engaging.

Finally, be aware of how much space you are taking up and remain conscious of what your body is saying. Invading too much personal space makes people in the audience feel uncomfortable.

Be sure to match people’s body language cues so that it doesn’t come off as aggressive or intimidating. By paying attention to these small nuances, you will be able to properly control your body language in public speaking and make a bigger impression on your audience!

What are the most important tips for using body language in public speaking?

The most important tips for using body language in public speaking are:

1. Establish good eye contact - to your audience, look around the room and make sure to engage people with eye contact at different points while you speak.

2. Use open body language - avoid postures that suggest discomfort or lack of confidence such as crossed arms, fidgeting, and avoiding direct eye contact. Instead, strive to use body language that suggests openness and comfort.

3. Use gestures to emphasize points - gestures can help engage your audience, amplify the message you're trying to get across, and give energy to your presentation. Practice beforehand what gestures will help accentuate each point in your presentation and use them appropriately when speaking.

4. Use facial expressions - don't just stand still like a statue! Make sure to smile, frown, use surprise and other subtle expressions as appropriate to convey emotion with your words and make your story come alive for the audience.

5. Vary Your Speech Pace & Volume - vary the speed of your delivery based on the content of your speech and don't forget about pushing up or down on the volume of your voice for multi-syllable words or when emphasizing a point – movement of your hands can be helpful too!

Using these tips during public speaking can help make it more impactful and have better results in conveying your message across effectively to any audience.