Welcome back! Where did the time go? We left off last week with my invitation for you to practice dropping your arms to your sides when you’re not gesturing ― rather than locking them against your midsection. The point of that uncomfortable and seemingly silly exercise was to help you create the very important habit of speaking with unlocked, relaxed arms, a natural posture that complements your verbal message.
We’ll wrap up this two-part blog by addressing how to effectively manage the surge of nerves that can affect your legs when you present.
First, let’s take a look at three of the most common manifestations of “happy legs.” It will be interesting to see which, if any, sounds familiar to you.
- The Indiana Pacer ― This speaker paces back and forth across the stage (or room) as if he or she is playing forward in a basketball game. Foul on Walkie-Talkies! Aimless, unintentional movements are a telltale sign of a lack of confidence.
- The Texas Two-Stepper ― This speaker constantly steps forward and back or side to side as if they’re listening to music in their head. Meanwhile, their audience ignores their important message because they’re obsessed with finding out what the speaker’s listening to.
- Last but not least is The Cali Crossover ― This speaker crosses their legs at their ankles and holds on for dear life. Interestingly, what the Cali Crossover does with their legs, many other speakers do with their arms. It’s the leg equivalent of folding your arms in a defensive posture.
OK, enough with the problems. What should you do about all of this?
I have two very simple recommendations that don’t require you to stretch the limits of your comfort zone.
Bend your knees
When you feel the urge to pace, two-step or do the electric slide, slightly bend your knees and quickly straighten them out again as if you were bopping to your favorite tune, only not that hard. That slight, controlled bend of the knee dissipates your nervous energy so you don’t unintentionally move from your power position.
Lift your heels
When the surge of nerves is streaming down your legs, slightly lift your heels off the floor as if you were trying to let a burst of air escape. This small and discreet motion has the same effect as slightly bending your knees. Another way this works in your favor has to do with your audience’s perception; they’ll see it as an expression of high energy. That’s a good thing!
If your verbal and body languages aren’t in sync, communication will fail. A stable physical base is one of the best ways to communicate alignment and confidence to your audience. Be intentional about your gestures!
Dez Thornton is a communications coach who helps you say the right words in the right way when they matter most! For more information, see www.dezthornton.com