Toastmasters Speech 5: Your Body Speaks

The speaker who stands and talks at ease is the one who can be heard without weariness. If his posture and gestures are so graceful and unobtrusive that no one notices them, he may be counted truly successful.” – Toastmasters Founder Dr Ralph C. Smedley

Speech Objectives

  • Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact to express your message and achieve your speech’s purpose.
  • Make your body language smooth and natural.

Time: Five to seven minutes

You need to be aware of your body language. This is because it is an invaluable opportunity to improve your effectiveness and credibility as a speaker.

The fifth speech project explores how to support words with posture, stance, gestures, eye contact and facial expressions. It is about using every body movement to enhance your speech.

Is your body ‘lifeless’ when you speak, or does your random movement on stage confuse your audience?

Does your facial expression suggest fear or does it signal enthusiasm for your subject matter?

Do your hands enhance your words, or do they vibrate?

See!

Make eye contact, speak clearly and use vocabulary that is familiar to the person or group you are talking with. Losing eye contact, speaking softly or in a whining or belligerent tone of voice, covering one’s mouth with a hand, etc. all reduce the potential impact of a statement.

Move!

If you move while you speak, it will help you think and keep you in the moment. Strong, clean gestures amplify and bring your content to life. The body is an essential tool of human communication, and ignoring it can turn you into a block of wood. If you’re seated, simply use your arms, hands, upper body, and face. But give physical expression to the important things you say. If you don’t, we’ll miss the person behind the ideas.

Some people are naturally animated, while others are naturally reserved. If you naturally use your hands freely when you converse informally, use them freely when you give a speech. If you’re by nature a reserved, low-key person, don’t change your personality just to suit public speaking situations.

Self-confidence through preparation

Preparation helps erase self-doubt and makes you look good. Nothing influences a speaker’s mental attitude more than the knowledge that he or she is thoroughly prepared. This knowledge inspires self-confidence, a vital ingredient of effective public speaking.

When you are well-prepared, your behaviour can be directed outward toward your audience instead of inward toward your own anxieties. You will find it easier to be natural and spontaneous. Almost effortlessly, you’ll project the magic qualities of sincerity, earnestness, and enthusiasm.

The single most important rule for making your body speak effectively is to be yourself. Respond naturally to what you think, feel and say.