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Non-Verbal Communication Element # 5 – <br> Body Movement

Move Your Body –  Deliver a Message!

Picture this: The six foot, five inch, python armed bar bouncer just spotted someone in the club he ejected the previous night.  The baby-faced kid had  shown a counterfeit ID while trying to purchase a beer.  Now that same ‘punk’ was holding a Bud Light up to his mouth.

How do you picture the bouncer’s body movement as he clears a way for himself through the crowded bar and heads towards the underage drinker?

If the kid sees the bouncer before he reaches him, do you think he’ll already ‘get the message’?  You bet!

That kind of Body Movement definitely conveys a message, and no verbal communication is needed, is it?

Body movement, alone, or combined with other elements of non-verbal communication, can send messages to your audience with no words spoken.

As with all your Delivery, Body Movement must be in sync with the total message. If there’s a discrepancy, Body Movement, that is, what the audience sees, will take precedence. (Kind of like the person who gets stopped by the police, says he has no contraband in the vehicle, but is sweating bullets, twitching, and generally nervous. Will the police officer believe his words or the message his body is sending?)

Important points about Body Movement:

  1. The larger the audience, the more exaggerated your body movements should be.

  2. Know where you are, and where you want to be.

  3. Don’t wander off to one side of the stage and stay there.

  4. In most cases, come back to where you started speaking, usually stage center or behind a lectern placed at one side of the stage.

  5. The lectern, placed at one side of the stage, is often used when dealing with a PowerPoint presentation.

  6. Most presentations are conducted at center stage. (In some cases, there’s an ‘X’ on the stage that literally ‘marks the spot!’ you should continually return to.)

  7. Just as you shouldn’t “sway” behind a lectern, don’t pace back and forth across the stage.

  8. Your audience’s attention will be focused on the pacing and not on the message.  You don’t want them to feel like they’re watching a ping pong match!

  9. When you move, unless it’s for emphasis, move s-l-o-w-l-y.

  10. If possible, and it usually is, don’t turn your back on the audience.

  11. If you must turn your back, perhaps after walking into the audience as part of your presentation, don’t commence speaking until you turn around.  Even if you have a microphone, when you turn your back you risk losing your, and the audience’s, non-verbal communication to you. It’s not worth the risk.  Let those moments, until you can face the people, be a chance for them to absorb what they have seen and heard.

  12. And don’t walk backwards to prevent turning your back. You might trip – that would be worse.

What body movement images do the following place in the ‘movie in your mind’?

  1. Someone just matched all six numbers of the powerball lottery.

  2. Someone just matched all but the last number of the powerball lottery.

  3. A golfer sinks a long, long, looong putt and wins the tournament.

  4. The boxing match was close, and the referee is holding up one arm of each fighter as the announcer says, “And the winner is . . .!”

  5. Someone playing the ‘air guitar’ to the Moody Blues’ hit, “Your Wildest Dreams!”

Bottom Line for the Post:  Your Body Movement can communicate!

About the Author: Fred E. Miller coaches, speaks and writes about Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.


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