I started daily practices to become a better speaker in 2015, and one skill I really needed to work with was gestures. I grew up in a home with an Italian-American mother, and I lived in Italy for several years and learned the language of speaking with your hands. Outlandish gestures were commonplace for me even when describing where the eggs were in the fridge. These gestures I learned had many positive influences and served as a visual variety for my listeners. It could also be excessive and distracting energy without balance and pause. My practice was to be as expressive as I wanted, but I needed to come back to neutral and take a visual stop or period between my sentences.
Another way gestures didn’t serve me and affects many people is when we are a bit uncomfortable or stressed – which happens 99% of the time for most when public speaking! When uncomfortable or stressed, our bodies tell us to shrink and collapse, which can make us feel more protected. The problem with that is it traps energy in our body and closes ourselves off to people, which is not a positive perception for our listeners. I remember this playing out for me in a non-business environment five years ago as I was standing at my best friend’s BBQ in the Bay Area. I was talking to a new couple I hadn’t met before and folding my arms over my chest to feel more comfortable. I had the awareness of my practice to take a breathe and relax my hands down to my side and stay open. It was a juxtaposition of feeling uncomfortably vulnerable and awkward as well as liberating and empowering to know that I was consciously practicing to change a habit. It took several weeks of daily practice for it to start to feel more natural. It was amazing to feel the sense of confidence and openness, and control and composure that was balanced with my expressive gestures.
Presentation skills are one of the best ways to increase your career value. Research shows we are heavily influenced by what we see. As human beings, sight is our ruling sense. Our visual cortex is 25% of the human brain making it larger than any other functional area. That doesn’t mean that words don’t count, but when words and body language are in conflict, people tend to believe the body language more. Often, we only think about how our mood or feelings influences our physical body. In JDCS group coaching, participants are able to practice making a small tweak in their physical behaviors that have a profound positive impact on their thoughts and feelings.
Mary, one of the participants, said: “The experiential nature of the training made it unique and impactful. Jared and his team succinctly and effectively break down the science and art of handling our biggest fear - speaking to groups of people. I highly recommend his proven method for both the novice and most advanced public speaking individuals.”
We are each a unique individual, and it is critical to look closely at what shows up in our physical behaviors and the positive and negative impacts that our actions can have on our listeners. Come take a closer look and sign up for our 5-Week Small Group Coaching sessions for Mastering Presentations. It starts in two weeks, so sign up today for the limited slots! You can also check with your company to see if they have a professional development budget to support you.