12 Body Language Mistakes to Avoid During a Presentation

It has been involuntary to think that we should only pay attention to how we present the content, the clothes we use, and make the audience participative in preparing for a public presentation.

Non-verbal communication, or body language, has as many or even more things to reveal and tell people as verbal communication. Today, we will see some of the mistakes made during a presentation and the different messages the body transpires.

A quick example is that sometimes we tend to deliver our presentations while seated to avoid the audience’s pressure. Alternatively, we can be staring at one spot in the room to avoid eye contact and think we found a successful strategy.

The Bad News: The audience can see or understand that as a lack of confidence and not trust your credibility or expertise on the topic. 

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The Good News: No worries, there are ways to do better and appear confident, and you will learn all that here. 

Let’s start by looking at the list of 12 Body Languages Mistakes to Avoid During a Presentation:

  • Body Shrinking
  • Chewing
  • Crossing our arms 
  • Crossing our legs
  • Fidgeting
  • Hold objects that hide our body
  • Keeping a cellphone near
  • Lack of Mobility
  • Not making eye contact
  • Snapping our fingers
  • Avoid the SS’s (Sarcasm and/or Slangs)
  • Lost face expressions

Highly Recommended Article: AceThePresentation. 11 Best Body Language Tips for Engaging PresentationsOpens in a new tab..

12 Body Language Mistakes to Avoid During a Presentation

  1. Body Shrinking 
body language mistakes to avoid

Our posture reveals a lot about our confidence and professional ethics, so giving a speech about self-esteem without seeming to keep our body straight sounds a little controversial.

By shrinking our body standing up or even sitting down, we can make people think that we are shy or even lazy, and that can rule out our arguments or even devalue our speech, which is the last thing that we want.

  1. Chewing 
body language mistakes to avoid

If you chew gum while delivering a presentation, it may give the audience the impression that you are disrespectful, unprofessional, and unethical.

Chewing in this environment can also be very annoying and stand in between the message you are delivering and the audience.

As the speaker, it is essential to you that the audience have a good impression of you to remain attentive and open to the arguments and new ideas you are discussing.

  1. Crossing our arms 
body language mistakes to avoid

When we cross our arms, it passes the message that we are defensive about something that we don’t know or that the audience wants to suggest, so it is a visual barrier and a communication one.

Let us imagine if the audience asks us a question or even makes a suggestion that invites us to look at our arguments in a new dimension that we’ve never thought of before, and that is our reaction.

Even if we are open to looking forward to that new perspective, if we have our arms crossed while saying that the suggestion is an excellent point of view, it may look like that we feel threatened and, because of that, getting defensive.

  1. Crossing our legs
body language mistakes to avoid

There is a right way to cross your legs when we need to do our presentations while sitting, and crossing our legs or jiggling them is not one of them. This may show the audience that we are getting nervous and impatient with the situation we are facing.

When standing up is also important not to cross our legs because the audience could interpret it as tiredness, which can be bad for our professional image.

  1. Fidgeting

When trying to pipe the presentation’s nervousness, it is common for us to use fidgeting with our fingers or objects, distract ourselves from the problem (stress), and focus on delivering the message.

You can usually avoid it if you take some time to breathe, walk around, and see the faces of the people you are delivering the presentation to, focusing on the present, which will keep away the anxiousness.

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  1. Holding objects that hide our body

Holding on to some objects while we face a stressful situation can be comfortable, and it gives us the idea that we have something protecting us from it, but guess what it’s the opposite.

Just like fidgeting, grabbing objects against our bodies will not solve the problem. Thus, the audience will be distracted, trying to figure out why we have them.

Try to relax by visualizing the whole situation as a conversation, and make it be like that. This way, we can deliver the message that we want to spread and make them engage with us and share their perspective.

  1. Keeping a cellphone near
body language mistakes to avoid

Keeping our cellphones near during the presentation can be a source of distraction because a pop-up message can come up anytime or even a call that will move our attention without even realizing it.

Sometimes phones can be useful to us as the speakers, for clocking the time that the presentation will last. However, controlling time may also make us seem impatient or that we have someplace else to be.

Instead of that, there is a better solution; we can use a pulse watch or have a friend keeping the time for us. This way, you will avoid having long presentations that will make the audience feel tired.

  1. Lack of mobility
body language mistakes to avoid

The audience notices every step we give, and the ones we don’t also. So standing still or even choosing to remain sat will avoid any connection between the speaker and the audience.

Likewise, crossing legs when you’re standing or jiggling them isn’t good either for us as the speakers because it may show unprofessionalism and nervousness.

Balance is always the key. You can walk around to know the faces and stand confidently sometimes; both are a great option.

  1. Not making eye contact

Avoiding eye contact can be a big sign of insecurity and a back up to a confrontation. If you only focus on one person or don’t look at all to the audience, you make things a lot more awkward between you and the audience.

Many professional speakers advise you to Start with one sympathetic face if it comforts you and then appreciates the variety of colors or uniformity of them as an audience. Enjoying the moment can be relaxing and make the audience open and receptive to understand your arguments.

Highly Recommended Article: 6 Solid Tips About How to Make Eye ContactOpens in a new tab.

I like to add looking at the audience’s foreheads as a way to make you more comfortable and the audience’s impression of you looking at them is better than avoiding them altogether.

  1. Snapping your fingers

As we have been reading in earlier paragraphs, nervousness is commonly a big part of the problems we face while delivering a presentation, and snapping our fingers can be one of its results.

It can be misunderstood as an annoying habit and nervousness, which will drive the audience’s attention to anything but our message.

  1. Avoid the SS’s (Sarcasm and/or Slangs)

So we are enjoying the presentation, we start to make it conversational, but we should not forget that our audience may not enjoy the use of sarcasm and slangs. 

Using these two may make us look like beginners who are misinterpreting the audience with our close friends, which is unprofessional.

Even if we know the people we are delivering a speech to, we must separate the work environment with day-to-day will be very good for our career.

#12. Lost face expressions

body language mistakes to avoid

Sometimes even when we have the slides for our presentations ready, we can get lost or frustrated because it is getting hard to recall our next point of discussion, so we may convey that to the audience, through a confused or lost face – which is bad.

Our facial expressions are the mirror of our mood and thoughts, so we mustn’t panic, keep calm and breathing, to release tension and give yourself time to think.

Conclusion

Our body language has a lot more to say than we sometimes imagine. Sure there are symbols as nod heads, and it’s nice that we can right away know the meaning. Still, sometimes our body reflects how we feel about something or is about to deliver a presentation.

References and Further Reading

AceThePresentation. 11 Best Body Language Tips for Engaging PresentationsOpens in a new tab..

Life Hack. 8 Fatal Body Language Mistakes to Avoid During PresentationsOpens in a new tab..

The Genard Method. 5 Body Language Errors that Will Sink Your Presentation.Opens in a new tab.

Emidio Amadebai

An avid seeker of knowledge, and passionate about sharing the lessons he picks up in life. Emidio is passionate about public speaking, teaching, and helping others develop critical soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and other interpersonal skills which are in high demand in today's rapidly evolving market.

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