Warning! Body Language Trumps Content
Did you know that your audience is watching you carefully to see if your words align with your body language?
Most people believe that body language provides clues about how a speaker really feels.
In fact, if words and body language aren’t congruent during a presentation, it’s likely that the speaker will be evaluated as...
uncertain, indecisive, or inauthentic.
That’s obviously NOT the impression you are going for.
What does it look like when a speaker's words and body language aren't congruent?
Let's consider eye contact, an important signal of confidence and a great way to build connection with an audience.
Without meaning to, many anxious speakers send "signals" with their eyes that something is wrong.
They scan the room too quickly, or they stare too long at the friendliest face they see. They may neglect half of the audience by looking straight ahead, or they will ignore the audience altogether and talk the their power point slides.
The audience picks up on these signals and they can tell that something is off, but they aren't sure what it is. This leads them to come up with theories about the speaker, such as “he’s unprepared,” or “she’s exaggerating.” or “he’s uncertain.”
Of course, none of this is the truth...the speaker was just feeling nervous, but now it's too late. It's not fair, but it's a common problem that creates misunderstanding.
Similar misunderstandings can be caused by crossed arms, poor posture, distracting gestures, jittery movements....and many other non-verbal mistakes.
Bottom line is this - make sure your body language aligns with your message and supports your credibility.
Don't send mixed signals.
When your audience has to choose between believing your words or your body language, they will believe your body language, every time.