Presentation Skills: Body Language & Voice.
By Ricky Lien
Sunday, 12th June 2005
The usual and easiest advice to give any newcomer to public speaking or business presentation is to stand up, speak out, handle the questions asked, and sit down. That's the easy part. But how do we handle the nerves and how do we stand and use our body language? All public speakers or presenters need to accept nervousness as an occupational hazard. And how do we use our voice? This article will address some of those issues.


We can reduce the amount of nervousness by doing the following drill:

Prepare yourself early
Do a serious amount of preparation; in fact, prepare so much that you can actually see your presentation in your mind's eye so that you don't need to look for words or ideas during the speech.

Practice your speech
Begin your practice of the speech as soon as you can, and do it with imagining seeing your audience. What you want to do is to reduce the speech or presentation to a routine, as far as possible, before the event.


  • Fake it till you make it. Appear confident to your audience.
  • Make your affirmation, for example, "People listen to me when I talk, because I have something important to say". Or, "I am among friends, I am enjoying this, so yes, let's go!"
  • Be deliberate, but not pompous. If you need to walk to the stage or rostrum, don't rush. Walk confidently, hold your head up high, the audience will wait for you.
  • Remember to use deep breathing. As you're walking towards the rostrum or as you rise to speak, breathe deeply and steadily to calm your nerves.
  • Slowly, and deliberately, look at the audience, maintain your steady deep breathing
  • Memorise your opening paragraph (and your closing paragraph). Practicing this will help you get into your character, and ready to begin the speech or presentation.
  • Don't panic. If you do forget what you're going to say, and your mind goes blank, pause. If necessary, go over the words that you've just said or even summarise the part of the speech that you've already delivered, and proceed confidently.
How do I stand?

For a good relaxed deportment, carry yourself in an upright posture during your performance. Make sure there are no tense parts in your body, e.g., in your hands, knees, feet or body

Stand with a quiet leadership authority and appear at ease and relaxed at giving your presentation

An upright relaxed posture keeps your head steady and encourages eye contact with your audience. This encourages your audience to feel as if you are talking directly with each of them when you establish eye contact. Don't be nervous, be courageous and look them in the eye. You do have something of importance to say that could well change their lives, increase their profits or reduce their expenses and give them more time to live happier lives!

Facial expression
Keep an expressive, relaxed and pleasant face. This will create bonds with your audience.

Best to allow your hands to fall loosely at the sides of your body. If you need one hand to hold notes, it can be relaxed and hold the notes just above the waistline.

is an aid to, not a substitute for the expression of ideas. Be sparing with gestures and note the following points:

  • Arms and hands should move in a flowing and relaxed manner
  • Time the gestures consistent with the ideas being expressed
  • Support your hand gestures with head and body movement
  • Don't be artificially repetitive with gestures
a good basic position is to:

  • Place one foot slightly in front of the other, the heel of the front foot near the instep of the other. Have the toes pointing outwards at a slight angle.
  • Now move the feet apart until you are evenly balanced and you feel anchored to the floor. Do not lock your knees. Feel as if you have the power of a crouched cougar or that of a boxer, ready to move lightly and deliberately to add to your verbal impact of your message.

How do I use my voice?

There is a whole lot to do with voice, but in brief, pay attention to the following points:

  • Project your voice so that the people in the last row can hear you
  • Speak low, avoid high pitch voices
  • Phrasing – do not break up phrases, for example,
    o Incorrect: Vermicelli flour is / made from / rice and/ rice comes from/ padi fields.
    o Correct: Vermicelli flour is made from rice/ and rice/ comes from padi fields.
  • Volume – speak up with sufficient volume to fill the room
  • Pitch – Avoid a tense and irritating high pitch. Use your middle ranges as a base from which to move upwards or downwards
  • Pace – Variations in pace will assist you in using your voice to the best advantage and avoid being monotonous
  • Speak clearly – clear articulation is essential, don't be lazy in your speech. Use your tongue, move your mouth, pronounce your consonants and verbs sharply, produce them deliberately, and don't swallow or allow your words to fade away.
©Mindset Media Pty Ltd – All rights reserved

About Ricky

Ricky specialises in programmes for individuals and organisations on communication skills. Ricky has breakthrough practices for creativity in all human enterprises. He enters into a high energy dynamic partnership with his participants. His genius for creating innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment is unexcelled.

He is a professional speaker on change, customer satisfaction and communication skills. He also provides executive speech coaching and sales training.

Ricky is based in Sydney and works in the South East Asian region.

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