The wonderful uprightness we humans possess and enjoy is our evolutionary heritage. Our skeletons have evolved over millions of years to allow extremely efficient vertical alignment to take place. Our ability to achieve such good alignment, however, can be defeated by poor posture. The correct way to stand when giving a presentation is feet placed shoulder-width apart in an elegant verticality, with toes pointing to the audience. Imagine that there is a little string attached to the top of your hair bringing your head upward. Try not to stretch your jaw forward or bring it inward. This will compromise your vocal chords and affect the fluidity of your speech. Knees should be relaxed and very slightly bent. Shoulders also should be down and relaxed. Rigidity must be avoided. Let your arms be slightly bent at the elbow in a ready position to use hand and arm gesturing.
Presenters are often required to speak sitting. The same body posture standing can easily be adapted into sitting. Picture yourself “standing” on your sitting-bones and let your body sense the verticality of your head, neck and torso – the same verticality you would have if you were standing. Your hands should rest placed palms down on your thighs in a state of preparedness for gesturing at your waist level or higher.
It takes seven seconds for an audience to decide if they want to listen to your presentation. Your posture is the first impression an audience forms of you. If you stand or sit in a professional, confident posture, you will win an audience’s approval.
This posture should be maintained throughout your presentation.
Often presenters when sitting or over a period of time, forget their posture and return to bad habits of sitting as if collapsing into a comfortable chair. Sitting in a slumped posture, overstretches your back muscles while those in front are overstretched. Neither group can give good support.
When standing, presenters forget their good alignment.
They stand with one foot facing forward or to the side. They put their hands in their pockets or behind their back. Any slight change to our posture can affect our vertical alignment. Being aware of your body’s position can enhance or shorten a presenters longevity in the speaking business. Developing good habits in posture, early on in a speaking career will give years of reliability, confidence and success.
Pure and simple, public speaking begins with posture.
Written by Bette Elly Klimitz