1. Communication researcher John Borg argues that 93 percent of communication is nonverbal. In other words, the way you present a message often determines the manner in which it is received. In public speaking, these nonverbal behaviors are even more important. Your movements can either distract and detract from your message, or aid and enhance it. If you’re gearing up for a public presentation, here are a few things to keep in mind regarding your movement.

    1. Only walk when you are transitioning within your content. While pacing may seem comfortable and natural, it can easily become distracting to your listeners. On the other hand, walking with purpose can help listeners to mentally shift in accordance with your message. For example, let’s say your presentation is discussing the three most important components of house shopping. In this case, you might want to move to a different spot in front of the room just before each component you discuss. This serves as a visual reminder that you have verbally moved on to a new point.

    2. Your position in the room should correlate to the point of the speech that you’re at. Always start your presentation centered with your audience when possible. When you make your first movement, you should step to your right and forward. Subsequent points should move to your left. At the conclusion of your presentation, you should center yourself with the room once more, ending a few steps closer to your audience than you began.

    The entirety of the movement will make a "Z" shape. The reason for this kind of movement is that it correlates with the way your audience would read your message if it was written down. In Western Culture, people read from left to right. Your movement, viewed as left to right within the body of your presentation, substitutes for this eye movement.

    3. Your body should always be positioned in an open stance as it relates to your audience. An open stance will be facing as much of the audience as possible with your chest forward and your shoulders back. This is considered an assertive and honest posture. Maintain this stance in your movements, as well. You should never turn your back on your audience entirely. When walking, attempt to angle your body in such a way that you are still facing as many people as possible with your movement.

    4. Pace yourself. Your movement should start at the beginning of a thought and finish at its end. Moving too quickly or too slowly takes the attention off of the transition and onto your body, which is not the point of the movement. For this reason, practicing your presentation and the movements involved can be very important. It allows you to adjust your movement to make it more natural in appearance.

    5. The distance between you and your audience can vary greatly depending on the room in which the presentation takes place. However, you are able to control your position in the room. While you never want to be close to stepping on your audience’s toes, hugging the wall behind you is counterproductive as well. It sends a message that you are trying to put as much distance as possible between you and the audience, communicating a disconnect between yourself and the people you’re talking to. Instead, you should try to find a medium between the beginning of the audience and the wall behind you. 

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