Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

First let's clarify a common misunderstanding. Even very small meetings qualify as presentations; the core skills are still the same - small or large. So part of your skill as a presenter is to learn how to use your body while sitting down.

Here's the tip:

Even when sitting, engage the audience with your body

In practise that means leaning your body slightly towards the people you're looking at.

Really? Even for an audience of three or four?

Absolutely. Getting relaxed with an audience is a good idea, but that does not include leaning back in your chair. If you do that your body signals: I am not fully engaged with you; so you don't have to pay attention.

  1. Start (right from the ‘Good morning’) by putting your backside in the back of your seat and leaning slightly forward, with the fleshy parts of your arms on the table, hands resting lightly.
  2. Thereafter, vary the way you sit, moving around, even leaning back occasionally—but your average position should be tilted slightly forward, signalling, I am fully engaged with you.

If there is a serious purpose to the meeting, it works even for an audience of one!

Increasing your credibility with your body language

And here's the advanced tip.

Throughout your presentation, your spine should tilt and shoulders turn—ever so slightly, with movements as little as one centimetre—towards the people you’re looking at, including those who ask you questions.

It’s very subtle. Most audiences will not know consciously what you're up to, but they'll award you high credibility.

Try it out. Better still, ask a colleague for feedback. Ask if it looks right to tilt and turn as suggested. If so, how much?

Want the highest credibility of all?

For that you have to genuinely desire engagement with the audience. Let that desire loose and your body will automatically do the tilting and turning for you.

Michael

About Michael Brown

michael semiformal 460x300

Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

Interested in training in presentation skills?

We can help your presenters engage their audiences – whether they are speaking at major conferences, presenting to the community or colleagues, or speaking up at a meeting.

Learn more

Interested in training in media skills?

Our experienced media trainers can show your spokespeople how to work with the media so that everyone benefits.

Learn more