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What happens when you lead with your big toe?

Recently, I posted on LinkedIn about the power of body language and was reminded, through a comment (thank you, Bruce Montgomery), of an exciting exercise I used to do in acting classes. In this exercise, we would walk around the room and the teacher would instruct us to lead with a specific body part. Some students would walk leading with their big toe, others with their right shoulder, some with their stomach, and so on.

Next, we were asked to notice how we felt. What kind of person would walk this way? What did their voice sound like? What was their status or vocation? Did this character make eye contact? Did they smile or not? This was such a fun exercise that really drove home how powerful body language can be. It also taught me how I can change my own mental state and perspective by being more aware of my daily body language.

Did you know that up to 93% of the message we convey is non-verbal? That's right, only 7% of what we say is actually communicated through the words we use, according to a UCLA study.

So, what does that mean for us as speakers?

It means that the way we stand, move, and use our facial expressions and tone of voice has a huge impact on how our message is received by the audience.

Think about it, have you ever seen a speaker who was fidgeting and nervous, but still tried to deliver a polished speech? Chances are, you weren't fully convinced by what they were saying. But, on the other hand, have you seen a speaker who stood tall, made eye contact, and spoke with a confident and enthusiastic tone? You probably felt more engaged and interested in what they had to say.

Here's the exciting news: non-verbal cues can be learned and perfected with practice!

Here are a few tips to help you elevate your game:

  • Stand tall and proud like a superhero (thank you, Amy Cuddy!)

  • Connect with your audience through confident and intentional eye contact

  • Use gestures and movements to bring your words to life. Physicalize your storytelling

  • Vary your tone of voice to add excitement, drama, and emphasis to your message

  • Smile, frown, nod, or raise an eyebrow (my fave) to convey different emotions through your facial expressions.

In short, non-verbal cues are the special sauce that can make your public speaking shine! So, get ready to stand tall so you can rock the stage!

Source: UCLA study on nonverbal communication:

If you or someone you know would like to be a more confident and credible speaker who stands with confidence, please send them my way or find time on my calendar for a 30-minute complimentary consult.

My jam is working with entrepreneurs who want to expand their brand by getting on more stages and with organizations in tech and medical working with leaders and their teams so everyone is confidently speaking on the same page.


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