Don’t let your Body Language Ruin your Presentation

Have you ever asked yourself why, despite having a powerful presentation, your audience seemed disinterested in what you were saying?

Unfortunately, you can fail to impart your intended message because of poor body language. Most of us don’t realize it, but body language is one of the most salient aspects of any presentation.

The risk of ignoring these small details will compromise your connection with the audience, so knowing which body language mistakes you should avoid is crucial to the success of any presentation.

5 Body language mistakes you must avoid during a presentation


Crossed limbs are our body’s innate way of forming a closed defensive shield when feeling anxious. The two products of doing so are 1) to block any incoming danger to ourselves (the danger in this instance is what is making us nervous), and 2) to place ourselves behind a barrier where we can hide. For your presentation, both of these will make you lose audience engagement. If you want your audience to be receptive to your talk, stand straight and keep your arms open.


Undoubtedly, this is the greatest blunder you can commit on stage. At its most basic, a presentation is a conversation and if you don’t look at your audience, there’s an immediate disconnect. Try to maintain eye contact with different members of the audience throughout your presentation. Further to this (but depending on the content of your presentation) smile as it makes the audience perceive you as a warm, trustworthy, respectful and confident person.


Nothing creates disengagement like showing your back to the audience. Just don’t do it! Remember, you’re not presenting to yourself, the wall or the screen behind you; the audience is your key focus.


Fidgeting is most commonly associated with nervousness, anxiety and ultimately a loss of focus. Even if you’re feeling nervous (which is understandable), just fake it till you make it — in other words, try to give the impression you’re not nervous at the start, and the nerves will calm down by the time you’re halfway through your presentation. So avoid touching your hair, biting your nails, scratching your head, playing with your notes; anything that distracts the audience from what you’re saying. If you find this really hard to achieve, try incorporating hand gestures into your presentation, this will keep them busy and out of harms way.


The stage is all yours, so make use of it. If you’re comfortable moving out from the lectern, make an effort to bring yourself closer to the audience — it will help create engagement. But be sure to not put your hands in your pockets. Actually, if that’s the only thing you take from this post I’ll be happy, just please never give a talk with your hands in your pockets!

Originally published at on April 10, 2016.