First let's clarify a common misunderstanding. Even very small meetings qualify as presentations; the core skills are still the same - small or large. So part of your skill as a presenter is to learn how to use your body while sitting down.

Here's the tip:

Even when sitting, engage the audience with your body

In practise that means leaning your body slightly towards the people you're looking at.

Really? Even for an audience of three or four?

Absolutely. Getting relaxed with an audience is a good idea, but that does not include leaning back in your chair. If you do that your body signals: I am not fully engaged with you; so you don't have to pay attention.

  1. Start (right from the ‘Good morning’) by putting your backside in the back of your seat and leaning slightly forward, with the fleshy parts of your arms on the table, hands resting lightly.
  2. Thereafter, vary the way you sit, moving around, even leaning back occasionally—but your average position should be tilted slightly forward, signalling, I am fully engaged with you.

If there is a serious purpose to the meeting, it works even for an audience of one!

Increasing your credibility with your body language

And here's the advanced tip.

Throughout your presentation, your spine should tilt and shoulders turn—ever so slightly, with movements as little as one centimetre—towards the people you’re looking at, including those who ask you questions.

It’s very subtle. Most audiences will not know consciously what you're up to, but they'll award you high credibility.

Try it out. Better still, ask a colleague for feedback. Ask if it looks right to tilt and turn as suggested. If so, how much?

Want the highest credibility of all?

For that you have to genuinely desire engagement with the audience. Let that desire loose and your body will automatically do the tilting and turning for you.

Michael

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