Body Language & Nonverbal Communication in Public Speaking

When we say communication, the only things that come to our minds are language, public speaking, and media. But in the broader sense, something so significant - the term body language is missed out. Effectively communicating to people is not all that you say; it' also how you convey it through expressions and your gestures.

Non-verbal communication is an unspoken art of conveying the message to the audience or a person. Face-to-face communication makes interactions between people reliable. Scientists and experts are still decoding various cues and hints in body language art as it's a complex form of expression.

What is Body Language?

Body language includes reflexive or non-reflexive movements of the part or whole body, such as facial expressions, eye contact, posture, gestures, etc., to communicate some message. In simpler words, whether intentional or not, body language is the nonverbal behavior that we communicate to others.

We barely notice ourselves, but we are continuously exchanging non-verbal messages through our body language. Giving an excellent presentation and impressing the audience requires speaking through our body with purpose and poise- meaning we need to master our body language.Consider the message you want to convey, then use your body language to assist in delivery. In other words, mastering body language is a key skill of public speaking.


Body language plays a crucial role in public speaking. Good body language instantly builds a connection with your audience or peers.

No matter how good the content of your speech is, if you present it without expression or poise, the audience is bound to get disinterested. The audience, after all, enjoys good engagement from the speaker more than the content itself. Not that the content is unimportant, but good body language can outperform that one speaker who doesn't give a lot of importance to body language.

Your body language should support the content of your speech. If you intend to say yes, simultaneously nodding yes is a good sign of communication. Additionally, the power of nonverbal communication goes both ways. Those who don't have a good command of body language will struggle not only in academic situations, but in personal relations as well.

Positive body language should be encouraged and taught to children as it helps enhance confidence, improve self-esteem, and improve the art of non-verbal persuasion. Luckily, body language can be instilled in children early on, as their subconscious minds are still developing and good habits are easier to form.

Nonverbal Communication in Public Speaking


Here are some tips on Dos and Don'ts of positive body language-

1) Maintain Sustained Eye-contact

Maintain even and subtle eye contact with everyone as it signifies that the speaker cares about the listeners. This also shows your confidence level and sincerity. People often believe that those who try to hide something have trouble looking you in the eye, and it's rightly said so. Remember, eye contact must be deliberate and non-piercing for it to make an impact and build trust.

2) Meaningful Hand Gestures

Hand gestures are a great way to support any speech. Appropriate and non-distracting movement can add significant liveliness to your speech. A closed hand shows denial or aggression, and we don't want that, do we? Keep your palms open and express yourself through your hand movements.

3) Open Body Posture

Keep your stature as open and straight as possible. If you have a slumpedbody posture, youmay look unwelcoming and nervous. Not to mention, under-confident.A closed body in itself is a distraction for the audience. Face towards the audience, and make purposeful little movements instead of standing stiffly at one side.

open body posture

4) Smile

Giving a genuine smile is the quickest way to people's hearts.  A kind expression demonstrates your confidence andcheerful personality. Also, people will perceive you to be approachable.The same is not valid if you have a very deadly look on your face. So, don’t be afraid tobrighten everyone’s day and smile.

5) Maintain Correct Distance

When you stand too far from the person you are talking to, the person will perceive that you are uncomfortable. When you stand too close to them, you might make them uncomfortable. The same holds for the masses. The right thing to do is maintain healthy proximity withoutinvading anybody's personal space.

6)Greet When Necessary

Greetings are how we welcome and acknowledge someone's presence. Hand-shakes, a slight pat on the back, aninformal hug, or standing up when someone authoritative enters is also a form of greeting. Let your handshake be swift and firm, not too tight or casual. Understand your audience and respond to them accordingly.

These were some Dos, now let's dive into the Don'ts.

1) Don't Slouch or Fidget

Moving the gaze downwards on the floor increases the chances of slouching. Try to stand straight. Look into the eyes of people in the audience. We suggest practicing looking up when you are speaking as it helps to avoid slouching. Fidgeting is typical when you are new to the stage, and the only thing that helps reduce fidgeting is practice. Hence, we highly recommend training with a teacher.

We focus hugely on all these aspects and offer Public Speaking classes conducted by highly qualified and experienced teachers. These classes can help children in grades 3-8 be maestro in delivering speeches effectively.

2) Crossing your arms

When you cross your arms, the audience feels as if you have guarded yourself, as if you are hiding something or are resistant to them. It's like you are speaking, but you don't want to express yourself freely. That's the impression it creates. So avoid crossing your arms and use hand gestures gracefully!

3) Keep your facial expressions in check

The main mistake that speakers make is- either they are bland or show strong emotions in facial expression. Show emotions on the face when you are describing something personal. Yet don't get lost in it, or don't overdo it. Come back to the context of the speech. Hence, bringing back your facial expression to neutral is necessary.


We believe positive body language can up-level your child’s public speaking skills and make your child a confident speaker. It is always the best idea to get instructed by the right coach to master public speaking skills. 98thPercentile Public Speaking classes can provide your child the most suitable assistance in conquering the skills.To get your child excited about Public Speaking, check out our Public Speaking Program here and book a free trial class for Public Speaking with 98thPercentile today!