Getting Your Message Across: The Role of Body Language in Public Speaking

Public speaking is an art that requires a mastery of several skills to make a lasting impression on the audience. While most people focus on crafting their content and the delivery, they often underestimate the importance of body language in public speaking. However, research shows that nonverbal communication carries more weight than verbal communication, and this is why it is crucial to get your body language right. This article will explore the role of body language in public speaking and how you can use it to increase your influence.

The Importance of Body Language in Public Speaking

Body language refers to how you use your body to convey your message. It includes facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, eye contact, and tone of voice. In public speaking, body language accounts for 55% of the message, while verbal communication accounts for 38%, and the tone of voice accounts for 7%. This means that you can say one thing with your words but convey a completely different message with your body language. Therefore, it is crucial to align your verbal communication with your body language to get your message across effectively.

How Body Language Can Enhance Your Public Speaking

1. Establishing Credibility Your body language can help you establish credibility with your audience. A confident posture, direct eye contact, and strong hand gestures can communicate confidence and authority. On the other hand, a slouching posture, avoiding eye contact, and fidgeting can indicate nervousness or lack of confidence, which can undermine your credibility. 2. Demonstrating Engagement Your body language can also help you demonstrate engagement with your audience. Using appropriate facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movements can help convey your passion and conviction, which can engage your audience and keep them interested. 3. Maintaining Attention Your body language can help you maintain your audience's attention. A monotone voice, lack of eye contact, and rigid posture can be boring and disengaging. However, adding inflection to your tone of voice, using varied hand gestures, and changing your posture can pique your audience's interest and make them more attentive.

Common Body Language Mistakes to Avoid in Public Speaking

1. Looking Away Avoid negating the importance of eye contact. Looking away from the audience can make you seem uninterested or unprepared. Maintaining eye contact with your audience can make you seem confident and authoritative. 2. Fidgeting Fidgeting may appear to the audience as being unprepared or nervous. It can also be distracting and undermine your credibility. 3. Crossing Your Arms Crossing your arms can be interpreted as being closed off to the audience. It's best to adopt an open body posture to show receptiveness and to indicate that you are open to feedback and interaction.


In conclusion, body language holds an important role in public speaking. It comprises more than half of our message to the audience, making it a critical component to get your message across effectively. As a public speaker, you should be aware of your body language and how it affects the audience's perception of you. Ensuring that you have confident posture, direct eye contact, relevant facial expressions, and engaging hand gestures can help establish credibility, demonstrate engagement, and maintain attention from the audience. It's essential to avoid the common body language mistakes discussed above, and to strive to keep improving your nonverbal communication to become a more effective public speaker.