During a presentation, your face conveys more to your listener than any other part of your body. This is because the audience will be looking at your face most of the time. Your facial expressions can communicate positive messages such as confidence, friendliness, and enthusiasm. They could also communicate fear, frustration, or lack of control.
For maximum impact, consider two areas: facial expression and eye contact, which are explained in detail below. In addition, throughout your presentation, you can also comfort yourself by focusing on members of the audience who respond with a nod or a smile. It will help you feel more confident and relaxed to know that your words are having a positive effect on your audience and that your message is being well-received. Avoid paying attention to those who seem bored, displeased, or fidgety. They may have other things on their minds, unrelated to your presentation.
After familiarizing yourself with the main elements of effective presentations, one of the best ways to make real improvements is to have yourself videotaped. This one exercise will give you more information than all the books in the world. You will be able to see how you appear to others and what kind of non-verbal messages you are sending out. At professional presentations seminars and workshop, videotaped participants are always surprised by how much the video reveals. They can then utilize their newfound knowledge to overcome habits which may be sabotaging their own success.
Maintain Eye Contact
Establishing and maintaining eye contact with your audience will make you seem more confident, relaxed, and interesting. It also forces the audience to look back at you. Once you start implementing this technique, you will realize how effectively you can make a personal connection with various members of your audience.
In small groups, look at each person in the audience for about three seconds. In large groups, look at different sections of the audience. If you only look in one direction all the time, other sections of your audience will feel left out. Also avoid directing your attention to the key decision maker in the group. It will make him or her feel uncomfortable and make the rest of the audience feel ignored. Move your head slowly from time to time to give attention to all members of your audience equally.
A sure sign of an inexperienced presenter is one who looks down at his notes all the time in order to avoid the gaze of audience members. Rather than protecting you, this habit signals a lack of confidence, fear of the audience or lack of familiarity with your information. It will doom your presentation, no matter how interesting or valuable your message, because you are communicating at a very minimal level. You are not making any effort to connect with your audience members. They may as well simply read your handouts and you can go home! Beware of this weak body language. You are there. You have practiced, prepared and waited for this moment, however anxiously. It is time to look up confidently and say what you came there to say.
Since facial expressions reveal our true feelings, it is important to learn to convey the right messages with yours. The most important thing you can do is to smile a genuine smile. A smile communicates confidence and sincerity. It says that you know what you are doing, that you are happy to be there, and that you are enjoying giving the presentation (even if you’re not). It makes you more likable. If you smile, the audience is also more likely to smile back at you, which in turn will make you feel more comfortable. Avoid a phony, forced, or artificial smile. It will only reveal that you really don’t want to be there. When it’s inappropriate to smile, you can use your eyes and your eyebrows to communicate. In other words, use all of your face to support your words.