4 Reasons why Body Awareness is important for Public Speaking
Beginning of August I attended two great workshops
at the Impulstanz
Festival in Vienna. Feldenkrais Method
with Sascha Krausneker and Presence and Movement with Nicole Peisl.
It was an intense weekend, with 9 amazing hours daily filled with
exercises that helped me pay attention to my spine, my breathing,
the way I am standing, moving in space, what impulse leads to which
movement... I won't go too much into the details - you just had to
be there ;) But I felt like my whole body was aligned and I could
Since body awareness can really help you in dealing
linked to public speaking,
I have put together 4 tips on how you can be more aware of your
body. But first let me explain to you, why being present in and conscious of your body
can help you become a
better public speaker.
Your body can (and will) take you
Preparing a speech or a presentation is usually a mental process. It
all happens in our heads. We think about the best things to say, we
wonder about what questions our audience will most likely ask. We
exchange e-mails on content, structure and speaking time. We hope to
have it all figured out by the day of our presentation, we sit in
front of our computer and tweak at the slides of our PowerPoint
presentation. Maybe – if we have had the time - we have written the
most important points on cards or highlighted points on the printed
out transcript of our speech.
We think it's all under control... theoretically.
Then the day of our presentation comes and all of a sudden there are
all these signals our body is sending that we are not used to. We
have a hard time sleeping the night before, in the morning our heart
beats like crazy, we cannot eat, we cannot breathe properly. The
moment we have to step out in front of our audience, it just gets
worse. Our mouth is dry, our knees are shaking, we are afraid to
reach for the glass of water, because our hand is shaking so hard.
And not only are we surprised (or even shocked) by the way we are
feeling, we are afraid it shows and our confident
personality will be compromised and people will judge us (… which
stresses us out even more!).
Here are five ways you can use body awareness to stop the craziness
that comes with stage
fright and public
I hope these tips were useful. If you would like to get more tips
like these or tried them out, please let me know. You can also subscribe
to my newsletter, like my facebook
page or read my other blog posts
on tips about voice training and feeling confident as a public
speaker. You can even join one of my workshops or sign
up for individual coaching.
I look forward to hearing from you!
- Be conscious of your spine.
I had never visualised my spine until the workshop with Nicole.
Yes I had learnt and taught people to stand up straight and
breathe into their abdomen, but I had always thought of this
more in terms of a muscular movement. As in “Pull down your back
muscles and use your abs to breathe in and out”, but focusing on
my spine and how it is aligned helped me to “naturally” put
myself in a better position for my back and the deep breathing
just came with it automatically, without focusing on my breath.
→ Action: Before your next presentation, take time to
visualize your spine – and adjust your posture to give it it's
- Be conscious of how you are
standing. We started the Feldenkrais
sessions with just standing up straight and closing our eyes.
Paying attention to the way we were standing. Were our feet
towards one direction or the other? Were our hips pointing
forward, left or right? Were our shoulders pointing in any
particular direction? Was our head pointing or tilted to one
side or the other? It is amazing in how many different
directions one's body could point while we were claiming to just
simply be standing up straight! By taking the time to notice how
I was standing, I had the chance to listen to my body and adjust
my posture so I could stand comfortably.
→ Action: Before your next presentation, stand up
straight, close your eyes. Notice how you are standing - then
move your shoulders and hips slightly left and right, find a
position that feels comfortable.
- Be present in your body – be
present for your audience. When we
are afraid of public
speaking, we might feel the urge to hide,
because it would be so much easier than standing in front of all
these people with their eyes all expectantly directed at us. So
obviously we cannot hide physically, if we have agreed to hold
but it is possible that we are somehow caught up mentally in our
strong wish to be somewhere else. This translates to your body.
Imagine a dancer or an actor on stage being mentally somewhere
else? Do you think he or she could still give their best
performance and grab your attention? Would you be interested to
watch? Probably not. When you are standing in front of an
audience, it is the same thing. If you are not present in your
body and giving your work 100% of your attention and energy it
needs - people will be less interested, pay less attention to
you (classical e-mail checking on phone will start) and make you
→ Action: Next time before you give a speech
or a presentation
- close your eyes and mentally go through your body, consciously
paying attention to your head, shoulders, arms, belly, back,
hips, legs and feet. Feel your PRESENCE.
- Be conscious of the sound
of your voice. Your voice is also
part of your body. And it is also something that can take you by
surprise on the day of your presentation.
I always urge my clients to practise their presentation
out loud before DAY X. Our brain gets used to the sound and
content of our presentation
and will be more relaxed the day you actually articulate those
words in front of an audience. When you don't do this
beforehand, you will be taken by surprise by the sound of your voice. Because
obviously you will have imagined it to sound completely
→ Action: Practise what
you are going to say out loud and on the day of your presentation –
warm up your voice. You can do this by breathing in and sighing
several times and moving your jaw around. You can also sing a
little tune in the car or while preparing breakfast. Or you can
say the opening line of your presentation several times, so you
are even more familiar and comfortable with it that day.