The Importance of Body Language in Leadership Presentations

According to a recent Forbes article over 40% of workers said that poor communication skills are reducing trust both in leadership and in their teams.

As a leader, the last thing you want to hear is that your lack of ability to connect and communicate effectively with your teams is reducing their trust in you.

The words you use during a presentation are important, however, your body language can be just as impactful.  How you present yourself, through your posture, gestures, and facial expressions, can be just as important as what you say.

In this post, we’ll explore the power of nonverbal communication, common body language mistakes to avoid, and how to use body language effectively during leadership presentations.


The Power of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication is the process of communicating through means other than words.  This includes gestures, facial expressions, and posture.  It’s been found that nonverbal communication can convey meaning and influence in several ways.

For example, a leader who maintains eye contact with their audience is more likely to be perceived as trustworthy and confident.  Similarly, a leader who uses open and expansive body language will be perceived as more powerful and in control.  On the other hand, if a leader crosses their arms or avoids eye contact, they may be perceived as closed off or untrustworthy.


Common Body Language Mistakes to Avoid

While nonverbal communication can be a powerful tool, it can also work against you if not used correctly.  Below are a few common body language mistakes that leaders make during presentations and tips for avoiding them:

  • Fidgeting or playing with objects: Fidgeting can be a sign of nervousness or lack of confidence.  It can also be a sign of boredom.  To avoid this, try to keep your hands still and avoid playing with objects such as a pen or your phone.
  • Crossing your arms: Crossing your arms can be perceived as a defensive posture and may make you appear closed off or untrustworthy.  Instead, try to keep your arms open and relaxed, with your palms facing upwards.  However, it is worth noting that crossed arms do not always mean you are closed off, they can certainly give that impression.  This insightful video by former FBI agent and body language expert, Joe Navarro, gives more insight.
  • Avoiding eye contact: Making eye contact with your audience is important for building trust and credibility.  Try to focus on making direct eye contact for a few seconds with different members of your audience throughout the presentation.
  • Slouching or poor posture: Poor posture can make you appear unconfident or unprepared.  It can also give the impression that you don’t want to be there.  Instead, stand up straight and use an open, expansive posture to convey confidence.


How to Use Body Language Effectively

In addition to avoiding common mistakes, there are a few ways that leaders can use body language effectively during presentations. Here are a few examples:

  • Posture: An open posture, with your arms and legs uncrossed, can make you appear more approachable.  Keep your back straight and stand (or sit) tall to give an air of confidence.
  • Gestures: Gestures can be used to emphasise key points and make your presentation more engaging.  Just be sure to avoid overusing gestures or making them too large.
  • Eye contact: Making direct eye contact with members of your audience can help to build trust and credibility.
  • Smile: Perhaps one of the most important aspects of nonverbal communication is to smile! This helps your audience to feel welcome, and shows you are relaxed, confident, and approachable.


So, the way you present yourself through your body language is just as important as the words you use during a presentation.  By understanding the power of nonverbal communication, leaders can enhance their presentations and connect more effectively with their audience.

Remember, next time you are giving a presentation, pay attention to your posture, gestures, and facial expressions, they might be the key to a successful presentation!


If your team would like guidance on using effective body language when presenting, this is one of the areas we cover in our 1 and 2 day in-company programmes, contact us for more details.