good posture public speaking

The importance of good posture in public speaking

Good body language when giving a presentation plays a huge part in so many ways:

  • It helps you to feel calm & confident on the inside and look calm and confident on the outside
  • It demonstrates high status meaning the audience feel you have something worth listening to
  • It helps you to breathe easily and project your voice

If you have a strong presentation posture whether that’s behind a screen on a virtual call or on stage you will feel calm and confident inside. Once you feel calm and confident the audience can’t help but sense that from you and see it in you. (The opposite is also true that if you look scared and nervous the audience will see that and feel that too). Good posture and body language is critical to ensuring you stand or sit up straight, open your windpipe and can breathe easily. You won’t suffer from shortness of breath and you’ll add to your calm composure. A good presentation posture also leads to better voice production and projection, meaning you don’t have to shout to be heard.

Why don’t we all have good posture?

Although we are made to stand straight, when we are young we lose it because we sit at desks, hunch over computers and generally don’t move around as much as we were naturally meant to. Also, sitting or standing in a bad posture can feel more comfortable so we find ourselves in these positions without being aware of it.

Public speaking standing up

Whether you are presenting in a conference hall or a meeting room, your presenter stance is important. Take a look at our video on the topic and try it out for yourself to see how you can improve. (You can also find out what to do with your hands when giving a presentation here.)

Public speaking posture – sitting down

Whether you are sitting at a meeting room table or in front of your computer on a virtual call, your Seated Presenter Stance is important. Having your feet grounded on the floor, sitting with your back straight and holding your head level will lead to good posture, breathing and voice production.

Body language and presenting virtually

Some may say there has never been a more important time to adapt to a virtual environment. One of the areas we need to adapt to is to be aware of the differences in reading virtual body language compared to face to face and learn how to change in response.

  • On virtual calls we do not see the full body, we are missing some pieces of the body language ‘puzzle’. This is true of the presenter and the rest of the audience.
  • We are also likely to be missing some hand gestures as they can be out of shot.
  • Even though we can see the face, we may be missing some of the important micro expressions.

As the presenter or host, instead of relying on being able to ‘pick it up’ if someone has a concern or is getting distracted, make it as easy as possible for people to engage, ask questions and give feedback.

Read our tips below to learn how to rely less on body language cues to read your audience and more about engaging the audience and/or visit some of our other blogs:

Our top 3 tips for virtual calls to reduce the reliance on body language

Tips #1 – Be clear on how and when you want your to speak – do you want them to be on mute and only unmute to speak?

Tip #2 – Encourage people to interact by indicating how to do that – do you want them to put a virtual hand up or give a physical wave?

Tips #3 – Let participants know how they can raise concerns or questions. Do you want them to put their questions in chat and you have a Co-host who manages the chat accordingly?

Without as much body language to help, using the tips above can make your virtual presentations run more smoothly.

How good are you at reading body language? Interesting facts!

Rightly or wrongly, human nature drives us to follow (and trust) high-impact or “high-status” individuals, so if you want to influence and persuade, having a good presentation posture and avoiding unconscious low-status body language whether sitting or standing is a good idea.

Can you see how important body language is? And it all happens before you’ve even said a word!

Did you know? Typically, 14-16 areas of the women’s brain are active when reading body language compared to a typical male’s brain with 4-6 active areas.

Did you know? When asked to decode a silent movie woman were twice as good at it than men. 87% of women correctly guessed what was happening in the movie Vs just 42% of men. Apparently, homosexual men and men in highly emotional jobs did nearly as well as women.

Did you know? Someone with autism may not exhibit typical body language and may seem incongruent with what they are saying. Additionally, they may not be as naturally skilful in decoding other’s body language.

How good are your in-person and virtual presentation skills? Try our quiz to see how you score!


How good are your in-person and virtual presentation skills? Try our quiz to see how you score!

Dee Clayton

Posted by Dee Clayton on 31 Oct 2018

Like this blog?

Sign up to get notified about future blogs

    Other Blogs

    The #1 Worry Hosting on Zoom or Presenting on Teams? “What if the audience isn’t engaged?”

    Often our clients #1 worry when it comes to virtual hosting or speaking is engaging their audience, they can’t see if, or how, the ...

    Read More

    Virtual Presenting: How to maximise effectiveness in a virtual environment

    Overcoming small worries that stop you from being the best you can be. Details about our Virtual Presentations training programme. Has there ever been ...

    Read More

    How to stop saying ‘um’ and ‘erm’ when presenting?

    Happily, we’ve been busy with virtual clients lately, not only just across the UK but across the globe (we’ve been speaking to clients from ...

    Read More
    • Netflix
    • Toyota
    • Kimberly Clark
    • Volkswagen
    • Tesco
    • Premier Foods
    • RBS Bank
    • Danone

    We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.