One of my favorite pet peeves is that of washed-up Toastmasters ranting about a speaker’s “body language.” And none of them actually know a ding about body language. (If you’re a Toastmaster and you’re reading this, understand that the science of body language cannot be covered in three short pages.) It drives me nuts! I mean, come on! First off, they actually mean body movement and the movement on stage when they say “body language.” Secondly, you don’t have to move at all to make a point or share your big idea.
Countless men and women and inspired the masses by their words and passion alone. Moreover, I don’t think we have to dance like an elephant (peacock?) to make a point? Nor does one have to beat his chest like the alpha-gorilla (silverback) to show his passion? (Trust me. They do. Just search for “body language Toastmasters” on Youtube.)
Yes, you can. But I don’t think you should.
Moonwalking on stage (yes, I know there are exceptions) won’t help you conclude your presentation with finesse. Nor would screaming your lungs out would give you instant credibility. The right intent combined with just the right amount of passion is what makes the difference. How much is too much? If you have to think about it — you’re overdoing it.
There’s no place for theatrics in communication. Unless you are in the theater or perhaps, a stand-up comic (a weird one at that).
Picture yourself jumping up and down the stage or dancing like an elephant when your boss asks, “Sunil, can you explain why you haven’t turned in those annual reports yet?”
There’s absolutely no carryover from your practice (or theory) of body movement on stage to your real life. Why even bother using them? I honestly think it’s time for public speakers (wannabe or otherwise) and communicators to shy away from these superficial and impractical techniques. They don’t work. Period.
If you’re thinking, “but Sunil, I enjoy the stage and my body moves naturally while in total control all the time.” More power to you! That’s totally acceptable. What isn’t is the part that isn’t natural. And it shows. Like I said above, if you’re thinking about it, you’re overdoing it.
What works? Your eyes. Work on connecting with the audience through your eyes. They convey it all. Your passion, emotion, intent and most importantly your message. Let the audience know that you’re speaking to them. Not at them.
There’s a reason why the best communicators simply stand and deliver. Sure, some (Toastmasters specifically) would think of that as “hiding” behind the dais, but on stage, there’s only so much one can hide. The act of conveying that one powerful idea is what matters the most.
You get that right. And everything else is basically just redundant.