Keeping An Open Body

Keeping your body open to the audience means keeping the entire front of your body facing the audience as fully, and as much, as possible. An expert will avoid hiding behind a podium or table. Step out. Step close to the audience and make them your friends.

Covering the front of your body with your arm/s suggests you wish to hide the essence of who you are. Try to keep your arms and gestures open to the audience. Above all, avoid turning your back and speaking at the same time. English has an idiom about 'turning one's back on something', which means rejecting it. So make all gestures at the screen with the arm closest to the screen so that you do not cross your body with your arm or turn your back. Instead trust the screen, know your slides, and give your attention to the audience not the screen. A brief glance will be enough to remind you what each slide contains, and then you - like the expert you are - can look at the audience as you speak.

Moving some as you present is fine. For example, you look good when you walk a bit as you speak or gesture. However, you want to avoid rocking back and forth, which distracts the audience, and particularly avoid stepping backwards. Moving backwards signals you are unsure; you want to keep the audience from thinking you are unsure about what you are presenting.

Some presenters worry about what to do with their hands. The best thing to do with your hands is not to think about them. Think about science. Then use your hands to get your message across and to show your enthusiasm. The audience deserves to see that you enjoy what you do.

Work on developing some easy open-hand gestures with your other hand that will help you explain your work. What is natural for you to do with your hands when you have a friendly talk with friends or family? Observe yourself from within, and then use these gestures to help you when you want to communicate with an audience. Particularly effective gestures are any in which your palms are up, fingers spread, or the thumb and another finger touch each other.

Audiences appreciate speakers who show they have opened their minds by speaking with their hands and arms as well as with their slides and voices. You will look informed, confident, and experienced.

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