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Public speaking body language mistakes

If you’re nervous about giving a speech in front of a large audience, there are some simple body language mistakes that you can avoid to help keep them from picking up on your fear.

For example, if your hands are visibly trembling as you approach the stage to speak, it’s going to be hard for those watching not to sense how anxious you feel as they see your hands shake and hear your voice quiver as you attempt to deliver your message.

For many people who suffer from sweaty palms when they’re anxious or excited, this is something that happens naturally, but there are ways you can try to control it. If necessary, try discreetly wiping them dry with a tissue before approaching the podium if it makes you more comfortable. The key is to keep your palms from becoming visible to everyone in the audience.

When you give a presentation

People who choose to give a presentation while standing behind a podium often feel more confident and less exposed than they would if they had no barrier between themselves and their audience, but it can also work against them by drawing attention to their nervousness since many people mistake this for lack of confidence.

If you do decide to use a podium, don’t stand with your back against it or place your hands on top of it. It’s okay to rest one hand casually on the edge of the podium if you need some additional support for balance, but keep both feet flat on the ground instead of upon the platform where you’re standing so that your whole body is positioned toward the audience and looking relaxed.

Hand gestures that draw attention

Similarly, it’s best to avoid using hand gestures that draw attention to you or your body while speaking in public since they can send the wrong message about how self-assured you are feeling. Gestures like scratching your nose, touching your ear, pulling at your collar, fiddling with buttons on your clothes, and other similar movements give an impression of discomfort or anxiety because they fluster people who feel this way when speaking publicly.

Of course, there is always the possibility that some people will mistake these gestures for a deliberate attempt to add emphasis to a point you’re trying to make in your speech, but if it comes across as nervous behavior rather than intentional emphasis then most listeners will be turned off by what they see and hear from you.

 Keep your hands from covering up your face

Also, try to keep your hands from covering up or obscuring your face while you’re speaking. If you find yourself raising a hand automatically to cover part of your mouth as you speak so that no one can see it, this is a clear sign of nervousness and insecurity since most people who speak publicly will often lift their hands at times during the speech but they don’t hide their mouths behind them.

This type of gesture sends a message that the speaker is uncomfortable with what they’re saying and would rather not have anyone know what they’re thinking.

If you also feel a need to fidget by shaking your legs or shifting your weight from foot to foot at certain points in the speech, it’s best to stay still when these opportunities arise and keep your feet flat on the floor to help convey a sense of calm and composure.

When you find yourself thinking about how someone’s eyes appear as they watch you speak, it can be frustrating to know that there is no way to control what others will think of you when this happens.

Whether people are looking at you with curiosity or pity, speculation or suspicion, it doesn’t matter since you can’t change their perception of your discomfort just because it makes them see things from an unexpected angle.

When this starts happening as the speech goes on, simply try to avoid making eye contact with those who seem unresponsive so that they don’t feel like you’re drawing attention to them by staring in their direction.

Don’t be nervous

Also, remember that all listeners are capable of sensing your nervousness even when you don’t hear them saying anything about it. If you feel like they sense how uncomfortable you are, there’s no shame in admitting that this is the case since it might be true whether or not anyone ever says anything to you about it.

If necessary, try discreetly wiping them dry with a tissue before approaching the podium if it makes you more comfortable. The key is to keep your palms from becoming visible to everyone in the audience.

Standing behind a podium

People who choose to give a presentation while standing behind a podium often feel more confident and less exposed than they would if they had no barrier between themselves and their audience, but it can also work against them by drawing attention to their nervousness since many people mistake this type of physical barrier for a sign of insecurity.

If you find yourself standing behind the podium for this reason, try positioning it so that your feet aren’t visible to everyone in the audience or moving around as much as possible once you begin speaking so that listeners don’t focus on where you are every time you move.

The same goes for other people who might feel more comfortable with a wall beside them while they’re up in front of an audience since this can become noticeable if their shoulders and hips end up edging closer and closer to the wall as the speech continues.

These types of gestures quickly signal that someone is feeling insecure about how others will perceive them even though no one ever says anything about it.

If necessary, take a sip from a glass of water to give yourself something else to focus on until the audience’s attention goes back to what you are saying.

It can also be helpful to step away from the wall or podium if you feel overwhelmed by everything it conveys about your feelings, but only if the floor placement will allow you to avoid drawing more attention towards where you are standing.

To keep this from happening, take a deep breath before you begin speaking and hold it for a few seconds after each sentence so that your lungs continue filling with air without giving anyone around you enough time to notice any shifts in your posture as your body responds automatically to these changes in your breathing patterns.

You might even try counting silently inside your own head as part of this process since this action will keep you from moving any limbs involuntarily, which might give away how nervous you are without your control.


A common mistake people make when giving a speech involves over-gesticulating so much that they draw attention to themselves and their anxiety levels instead of allowing listeners to focus on what they’re saying during the speech.

This is usually caused by an attempt to unload tension through movement since it can be difficult to sit still for this kind of public speaking event if someone’s anxiety makes them feel restless.

To avoid this distraction, take a few seconds before you begin speaking to think about where your audience will be watching you from and where they will be looking as you move between different areas in front of them.

When possible, try not to swing your arms back and forth across the front of your body repeatedly since this can give people the impression that you are not confident in what you’re saying even if they do not actually say anything to you about it.

If you feel like your movements are too exaggerated at any point, try standing still for a few seconds or taking a step back so that you aren’t standing right in the middle of an open area where everyone’s eyesight is focused before returning to your normal range of motion.

Even when someone believes that he or she is being discreet with their hand gestures, there are certain actions that tend to have this unintentionally revealing effect on listeners regardless of how much they believe themselves to be hiding their nervousness when speaking in public.

For example, when someone fidgets with a pen or small object during the middle of their speech, it brings attention to whatever they are touching since listeners can’t help but try and figure out what is causing this shifting in their posture that isn’t tied to what he or she is saying.

To fight this urge, keep one hand open and relaxed on the podium when you’re not using two hands for something else such as pointing at an item on a slide presentation.

Since most people do this when they begin speaking, they won’t notice if your hands move slightly from time to time so that you can shift yourself back into position without needing to use any tools for this purpose.

Fidgeting with clothing

Another common mistake made by speakers involves fidgeting with clothing, jewelry, facial hair, or any other physical characteristic. When you feel the urge to adjust during your speech, stand still for a few seconds and then resume speaking as if nothing has happened.

This will allow people around you to focus on what you’re saying instead of paying attention to each time that your hands move towards your face before returning back down to where they were originally positioned at the beginning of your sentence.

To avoid this mistake, take a few seconds before giving a speech or presentation to identify how far away from the podium or other items on stage you should be standing so that people can see everything clearly and do not need to look up and down between different visual aids and your entire body since this action is likely to make lose track of what it is that you are saying if you move too much.

If your hands do not like to stay where they’re placed, consider using hand sanitizer or lotion before the event so that they slide less easily against objects in case you need to hold onto one of them with another object.

If this is still a problem for most speakers, try putting strips of tape on each end of the podium or table where your props are so that you have something to grip onto when you feel the urge to keep moving.

Although it can be difficult to focus on these details while speaking in public since there are so many things competing for your attention at once, by taking just a few seconds beforehand to identify these problems and their solutions, any nervousness felt in front of a large audience can be quickly put in the past and your words will mean even more to them since you were able to clearly express yourself at all times.

How can you misinterpret someone’s body language?

If you want to know how important nonverbal communication is, all you have to do is try to hold a conversation with someone who’s across the room. It should be easy, but it isn’t. Why? You can’t read facial expressions or body language that well from that far away.

Nonverbal communication is made up of everything other than words. The tone in which something is said or not said is communicating information. The way someone holds their arms can indicate whether they are open to discussion or not. Even physical touch contains messages about emotions, intentions and boundaries.

Eye contact has long been considered an important part of nonverbal communication and for good reason! When eye contact stops, tension often builds between two people. When eye contact resumes, tension typically lessens. The longer someone maintains eye contact with you, the more they like and trust you.

Touching behavior communicates something too. So does lack of touch! A person’s comfort level with personal space is an important consideration when it comes to interpreting body language.

There are countless ways that nonverbal communication can be misinterpreted or misunderstood, but what does that mean? That means that you have to wonder why two people are not communicating well together if one person makes a comment or asks a question and doesn’t get even a simple response.

It happens all the time in relationships-from casual acquaintances to married couples-and it’s painful for both parties involved Let’s explore some of the many ways you can misinterpret someone’s body language-broken down into categories like eye contact, touching behavior and sitting position.

1. Eye contact

Eye contact is so important when it comes to nonverbal communication because lack of eye contact is often an indicator that someone does not want to talk or engage in conversation.

It can be a sign they are lying too. But why?  As stated above, the longer they maintain eye contact with you, the more they like and trust you! Not making eye contact easily could mean that they do not like the topic of discussion or they feel very nervous about something they are talking about.

When it comes to small talk at parties, for example, this is not typically the case though it just means that they don’t want to talk about whatever you’re talking about!

2. Touching behavior

The way someone holds their arms can indicate whether they are open to discussion or not and physical touch contains messages about emotions, intentions and boundaries.

Another big part of touching-and what this usually means for body language-is personal space. When it comes to body language, personal space is an important consideration since our comfort level with letting others come closer or move away from us at various times communicates a lot of information (to those who know how to read it).

This has been proven by studies done on the flight zones. Our interpersonal distance is categorized as intimate, personal, social and public distances. If your conversation partner is sitting really close to you, it can mean they want some form of contact. If they are sitting really far away from you, it could mean that they do not like you or that the topic of discussion makes them very uncomfortable.

3. Sitting position

Your conversation partner’s sitting position can also be interpreted as communicating something too. For example, if your partner is leaning towards you and has their arms open with palms visible this means that they are receptive to what you’re saying and would like to hear more about it!

If they happen to be turned away from you with arms crossed or legs pointed in another direction (i.e., the “flight” response), this signals displeasure over your words or actions. This isn’t necessarily true; people simply may be cold or need more personal space. However, this can also mean that they are getting bored with the topic of discussion so try to switch it up!

Remember that nonverbal communication is powerful and eye contact, touching behavior and sitting position are just a few small components that together create an overall picture about how someone feels about you or what you’re discussing. Keep these things in mind when next you’re looking for some body language clues-and see if the other person starts talking more!

If all else fails, talk to them. Communication is key; without openness between both parties involved in conversation there will always be barriers because each person has their own unique ideas and opinions which could make connection difficult. So communicate yourself-learn to look for the signs and pay attention to them! Then talk about what you see.

Be open, be honest, ask questions and explore the possibilities that await when you communicate in this way! Who knows you may even find that your unique idea is something others want to know more about too.