Public speaking is not only in the top 10 list of things people are afraid of doing, it’s #1!

The 14 Worst Human Fears

When a team of market researchers asked 3000 Americans “What are you most afraid of?” many fears were named — Speaking before a group comes in as #1

Biggest Fear (with percentage of the group that named it as their biggest fear):

1 Speaking before a group 41
2 Heights 32
3 Insects and bugs 22
3 Financial Problems 22
3 Deep water 22
6 Sickness 19
6 Death 19
8 Flying 18
9 Loneliness 14
10 Dogs 11
11 Driving/riding in a car 9
12 Darkness 8
12 Elevators 8
14 Escalators 5

So, it goes without saying, most of us  could use some tips to help us get over our fear.  Getting comfortable with what we are uncomfortable is what good communication and presentation skills are all about. .

I’ve been working with a client over the past few weeks to get her ready for an hour-long presentation for a conference (her first big presentation.)  We’ve been working on the basics, and are now working on the details that make a good presentation a great one.  The more comfortable you are with the little stuff, the less scary the experience will be.

There are some small and easy things you can do that  with your body language that will that take your presentation to the next level of excellence.

Putting it all together

Here are my top tips for using body language skills to help you deliver a great presentation.

1. Make eye contact.

People tend to pay more attention to and like people more when they look them in the eye.   So, look up and look into the eyes of your audience.  You’ll feel more connected and less nervous and they’ll stay better tuned to you.

2. Use open body language.

Open your chest and arms, and keep your back straight.  This will give you confidence and demonstrate credibility.   And, by the way, taking a minute to make your own power pose before your presentation is also good confidence builder..

3. Point.  

This is one time it is appropriate to point. Point at what you are emphasizing to draw your audience in.  Use gestures to make a point.   Point, point, point away!  Your audience will focus more on what you are saying when they see you connect it with a visual gesture.

4. Walk around.  

Don’t stand in one spot. Move around. Walk up to your audience.  Engage with them and they’ll engage right back. Relax and have fun with the group.

5. Be positive.  

And, probably the best tip of all — Smile, nod, and use open movements throughout the presentation.   A smile goes a long way to help you break through your own nervousness and show that you are approachable, interesting and fun!

Here’s to your next successful presentation!  Use the power of good body language to make it a great one!


Betty Lochner


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website