Project Positive Body Language and Rid Yourself of Distracting Body Movements

  • This article describes how distracting movements can impact your presentations and explains why proper body movement is essential.
  • It suggests several helpful tips on how to overcome distracting movements.

When making a presentation to a client, staff, or even the boss, have you ever asked yourself, ‘What do I look like when I present?’Your body movement during your presentation can strengthen the impact of your message, or it can seriously be a distraction.

Nervous energy can cause you to move unnecessarily. The key is to become aware of your movement tendencies. Do you rock from side to side? Are your hands stuffed in your pockets, fidgeting with keys, coins, pens or pointers?

When presenting, one of your goals is to look so natural with your movements in conjunction with your message. Hence, no one even notices that you are using intonation and inflection or body movement to emphasise the points of your speech.

There are a few distracting mannerisms

  • Swaying to and fro in front of the audience
  • Hanging on to the podium
  • Finger tapping
  • Licking your lips or biting your lips
  • Fidgeting with clothes, pockets or jewelry
  • Frowning
  • Fussing with hair
  • Bobbing your head
  • Flailing arms at inappropriate times

The movements you make in your speech should be planned or at least controlled by you.  Any movement that is not planned could potentially be distracting.  Many of the mannerisms mentioned above stem from being nervous about being on stage.  Additionally, they may happen because you aren’t aware you are doing them.  Either way, you’ll need to minimize and eliminate as many of these movements as possible.

Here are six suggestions to help you overcome distracting movements.

1. Make a video of yourself.

Do you even know that you are making these movements?  Chances are you’re not.  A video will help you identify which distracting movements you’ll need to work on eliminating.

2. Review your video to identify places where you make distracting mannerisms.

Make a list of the mannerisms you have and thoughtfully practice your speech without those mannerisms.  Rerecord yourself and keep reviewing your tapes until you are satisfied that all the mannerisms are gone.


3. Work on feeling comfortable with delivering your speech.  

You should feel natural as you speak about your topic. You should feel like you are sharing information with a long time friend.  This will come when you’ve spent many hours practicing, reworking and revising your speech.  This also happens when you speak from your heart and let others know the way you feel about your subject.

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4. Work on eliminating nervousness when delivering your speech. 

This will occur as you get more familiar with your material. Take the time to focus on delivering your message instead of focusing on the feelings of fear and anxiety.

5. You can also review your video for the place in your speech that you need to add body movements to your presentation to make it more interesting.

Gestures are your traveling visual aids. Let your movements express the way you feel.  Your movements should be natural and work in your favor as you emphasize specific points in your presentation.

6. Body movements should look natural.

You can use facial expressions and always make eye contact with your audience for maximum effects.

Every movement should be planned during your presentation. You can quickly lose your audience with distracting movements because your audience’s focus and attention will be turned to these movements instead of what you have to say!

If you are unable to videotape yourself, by all means, practice in the mirror. Learn to eliminate distracting movements and incorporate movements that add impact to your presentation.

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Perhaps if you’re looking to coaching to improve your executive presence online, get in touch with Pamela to request a free 20-minute consultation here, or you can also connect with Pamela on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Pamela Wigglesworth, CSP, is an international communication consultant, high-performance presentation coach, speaker, and CEO of Experiential.  She helps clients establish their executive presence, structure a clear, concise message, and deliver their thoughts and ideas with style, confidence, and authority.