February 04, 2020
What Are You Saying?
When you are a presenter or a booth staffer at a trade show exhibit, your single most important visual is YOU. Your audience is looking at you. They are listening to you. The way you look and sound communicate your entire message and determine your success as a speaker. Your body language, facial expressions, and gestures matter even more, I would argue, than your actual speech. Below are some areas in which your physical expressiveness can wow your audience.
Some people feel awkward in front of a group of people. “What do I do with my hands?!” This is a natural feeling, but to alleviate it, assume a “power posture.” A power posture is an open posture – feet hip-width apart, hands relaxed at the side – which can feel strange at first, but it doesn’t look strange to your audience. It looks open. It looks like you are giving information and receiving a feel from the audience, an ability to “read the room.”
While gestures can give you something to do with your hands, they can also be distracting. Don’t fall into the habit of flapping or waving your hands around thoughtlessly. Make your gestures meaningful; make them relate to your message. What’s more, research shows that presenters appear more competent when they make hand gestures than when they keep their hands still or pocketed.
Your face is part of your body, thus part of your body language. One body language researcher in California states, “The face is like a switch on a railroad track. It affects the trajectory of the [discussion] the way the switch would affect the path of the train.” Audience members rely on your facial expressions to augment meaning and importance. Maybe you’re not naturally expressive. If not, use a mirror to help you bridge what you’re trying to say and what your face is communicating.
Besides the way you look during your presentation, your audience is going to notice most how you sound. Do you know how you sound? Is your voice pleasant to listen to? Commanding? Inviting? Expressive? Your voice can influence others and their impression of your company. So make the most of it. Practice your presentation using your voice to command the room. Use pitch and tone and volume and diction to drive your message home. Listen to motivational speakers you like, figure out why you like them, and mimic some of their best speech patterns.
Gesture with your hands or leave them hanging by your side during your presentation. Whatever you do, don’t hold your keys, your iPad, your phone, or anything else. Having something in your hands is distracting to your audience. It signals that you’re about to use whatever you’re holding, and that keeps the audience anxiously waiting. Unless you have a prop that is part of your presentation, and this would be rare, your hands should remain empty. Despite the popularity and prevalence of iPads used by presenters, they aren’t a good idea.
Arm yourself for your presentations at trade shows by using powerful, productive body language. People who employ these helpful tips set themselves apart from your average exhibitor, making themselves above average! Here’s to a great season of presenting well!
This article was inspired by ""Entertaining Your Trade Show Clients" by Chris Rowe and first appeared at www.skyline-etips.com/