Carl Storz

Oral Presentation Skills

Body language

What is body language?

Eye contact, facial expressions, posture, movements, gestures.

Why is it useful?

It is natural and a part of communication.
to clarify meaning;
it is very visual
to vent nervousness
to maintain interest
to emphasize

The golden rule is "Be natural and relaxed!"

Positive body language

eye contact
to keep audiences' attention (Asian audience might feel aggressed.)
facial expressions should be natural and friendly:
raise eyebrows to show surprise -
open eyes wide -
squint your eyes -
curl your eyebrows

the hands
Lots of possibilities to emphasise, to enumerate.
to express sincerity or reflexion
Be conscious of what you do with your hands
If you are unhappy, hold notes or cards to occupy them
arm - movements back and forth to suggest flow.
Open arms to include or welcome ideas

body movement
to indicate a change of focus
keep audience's attention
move forward to emphasize
move to side to indicate a transition gesture
up and down head motions are movements to indicate importance or acknowledgement
pen or pointer to indicate part, place (on a transparency)
shrug shoulder to indicate I don't know or care

stand straight but relaxed
(do not slouch or lean sideways)
Lean forward to emphasize however
No hands in pockets

Negative body language

Failing to make eye contact
Do not look at your notes all the time
Looking at the screen/board means your back is turned to the audience cutting contact
Don't stare, or look blankly into people's eyes
Avoid swaying back and forth like a pendulum
Avoid leaning against walls
Be aware of your nervous tics
Do not fold your arms like a barrier
While one hand in a pocket gives a very relaxed pose, both hands in pockets looks too casual and should be avoided


page updated 02/10/2013