Body Language Course Part 4 | Performance Art

Performance art

(presentation skills)

Every presentation you make is essentially a performance, As we have studied in previous articles that 90% of what we communicate is transmitted non-verbally, which means that a large amount of performance depends upon presence.

Before beginning a presentation make sure you know what you are trying to do. For example, do you aim to inform, instruct, entertain, justify or sell? The objective must be clear to you not to the audience.

By the use of body language and tone of voice, you can convince an audience. Let’s study the rules of engagement of the audience.

The rules of engagement

  1. Maintain eye contact with the audience.

Members of your audience need to believe that you are talking to each of them as individuals. They need to feel that you are looking at everyone else out of politeness.

One thing remembers in your mind presenters who maintain regular eye contact with the audience are more likely by the audience to a persuasive, sincere, credible, honest, experienced, and friendly.

Be aware of hand gestures and tone of voice

If eye contact is important in gaining the attention of your audience, how you act and sound is just as important in maintaining it.

Your hands should conduct your presentation. It helps to hold the hands out and the palms down as this indicates assurance and certainty.

Speak slowly, adding emphasis where appropriate by varying the tone and resonance of your voice.

Speaking more quickly to make a particular point to fine providing that your audience can hear and understand you.

3.Repeat key phrases to reinforce your message

One way of adding emphasis in a presentation is to repeat key phrases using an assertive tone of voice. The actual words themselves need not always be repeated providing the same meaning remains the same.

4. Use visual aids to structure your presentation

Maintaining eye contact with the audience while the use of promoting techniques is not always easy. One method is to use cards,

which are held in the palm of the hand. These cards contain only keywords (reminders of what you wish to say).

Note-  Whatever you do, do not allow a visual aid to distract you from those you are addressing. At the moment when you pay less attention to the audience, the audience starts to pay less attention to you.

5. Be animated but stay calm and look professional

There are a number of common distractions that reduce audience attention. For example-

  • March from one side to the stage to the other
  • Fiddle with pointers, pens, and the other sundry items
  • Seek confirmation with phrases like ‘Is that, O.K?’, ‘Do you see?’ or ‘You know what I mean?’

  • Standing with your hands in your pockets; this posture gives the impression that you are over-confident.

 6. Hold audience attention by sounding enthusiastic

It is generally accepted that for all presentations audience attention will be high in the beginning, low in the middle, and higher in the end.

If your presentation is long more than 30 minutes then you should try to hold their attention by sounding more enthusiastic as you go long.

7. Retain attention having a natural break

Another way of retaining attention is to have a natural break in the middle of your presentation, for example by passing round items, samples, and literature.

But if you are going to do this, keep the materials hidden from view at the start otherwise they will distract attention away from you.

8. Take note of negative body language

Certain gestures and posture will tell you a lot about the people’s attitude towards you and their respectiveness to what you are saying.

  • Leaning the chin on the head with the index finger on the cheek indicates critical appraisal or critical evaluation.
  • The sleeping gesture indicates that someone has made up their minds either for or against you.
  • Sitting with arms and ankles crossed indicates that someone may feel defensive.
  • Picking lint from clothes indicates that someone disagrees but does not want to argue with you.

If you are aware of these things happening, try to draw the people’s concerns into the dialogue.

9. Attempt to encourage convergence of opinions

In any audience, there are bound to be differences of opinion and the astute presenter can often identify sets or subgroups of people who appear to share similar opinions.

As well as by understanding the body language what you need to do is to encourage participation

  • Mention their names or describe their expertise. Even if you think that you have to sound ingratiating or flattering about people’s skills and contributions,
  • it is worth remembering that most people like to be respected and given credence for their views.
  • Produce more support for your ideas. This can be done by using the technique previously described as an upward appeal.
  • In this case, you can use the following kinds of statements: “ the Managing Director and I had a long discussion about this very point and he agrees with me………………”.

Essentially a performance and how you perform is central to the success or failure of what you are trying to communicate.