Public Speaking: 3 Simple Techniques to Skyrocket your Credibility when Presenting-Part 1 (Body Movement)

You’ve prepared the valuable information for your presentation.  You’re confident about the content you’ll be sharing.  Perhaps you’re giving a workshop.  It’s the first time you’re giving this presentation.  You’re knowledgeable and excited about the material yet you’re worried that your delivery will negatively affect your credibility.  Your mind races with one of the three common questions that people ask when they give presentations. 

1.  What do I do with my body when I’m nervous?

2. What do I do with my voice when I’m nervous?

3. How do I read my audience?

This article addresses the first of these 3 questions.  Parts 2 and 3 of this article answer the remaining two questions.  These techniques will engage your audience.  They’ll highlight you as credible about your topic.  They’ll prove to put your fears at ease when employed.  Here’s the answer to the first question.

What do I do with my Body when I’m Nervous?

Dave Mathews has a lyric that goes “Stay. Stay. Stay. Stay for a while.”  The tendency for many of us when we’re nervous is to move around the room.  This excessive movement can distract your audience from the content you’re presenting. 

1. Plant your feet in one spot.  Feel the ground with the outside and inside edges of your feet.  Wiggle your toes.  This will remind you to stay flexible. Although you’re standing with your feet in one spot, you will still be able to relax your body.  As you feel less anxious and in control of your body, you can take a step or two and pause. 

2. Keep your knees supple (not locked).  Keeping your feet in one area, allow your upper body to move naturally.

3. Gesture with your torso. If you use excessive arm and hand gestures that are distracting, challenge yourself to deliver your content with your arms at your sides.  Provide movement variability and contrast by flexing at your hips as you lean into your audience for emphasis.  

4.  Make eye contact with different members of your audience. Rather than scanning the whole room and not looking any one individual in the eye, briefly engage eye contact with one person.  Move to the next.  Favor no one particular group of audience members at either side of the room.  Make mental note of anyone whose body language is expressing interest in what you’re saying. This will support your confidence.

These techniques will usually function in 4 ways.  They’ll automatically ground you. They’ll ease your tension.  They’ll decrease your anxiety.  They’ll  improve your confidence.  Not to mention, your audience members will connect their brains to what you’re saying and not to what you’re doing.  Your participants will also feel that you’re confident in what you’re sharing. 

Now go out there and Rock your Audience!


Teena EvertFebruary 20th, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Thank you Cher – I really enjoyed your post. As a somatic based practitioner (of life), being attuned to knowing what our body does particularly under stress is so important, not only our success as a speaker, but also to be skillful in all of our interactions in the world. I look forward to part 2 and 3!

Cher GundersonFebruary 20th, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Teena, you make a great point that these strategies allow us to be skillful in all of our interactions.

Tammy CrawleyFebruary 20th, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Cher, great blog! You are very informative on a subject that is difficult for alot of people.

Cher GundersonFebruary 20th, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Tammy, Thank you. My mission is to empower people to confidently express their message to those waiting to hear it.

PatriciaFebruary 20th, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Great post Cher! You always provide very helpful information on a subject that, at least for me is a challenge! can’t wait for the next part 🙂

Cher GundersonFebruary 20th, 2014 at 9:34 pm

I’m very glad you found the information valuable for your challenge area Patricia. Stay tuned 🙂

Tina GamesFebruary 20th, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Another great post, Cher! ~ I’ve often wondered about the movement around the room. Sometimes I’ve seen it work really well – and other times, I agree that it’s distracting. ~ Are there any situations where moving into the audience – and speaking from various points – would be considered a good thing? I think back on how well Oprah used to work the room on her earlier talk shows – when she would go out into the audience and speak with various people. I’ve also seen this done in certain political venues. ~ So I’m curious about this for myself – and would love any advice you might have regarding exceptions to the “stay in one place” rule. ~ Many thanks!

~ Tina

Cher GundersonFebruary 21st, 2014 at 8:18 am


Thank you for your question. Yes, there are plenty of situations where moving into the audience is effective. The “rule” of staying in one place is for speakers who are the only speaker at a given point. It applies for the speaker whose movement is intended to remove anxiety. Unfortunately, in those cases, the anxiety is not removed-it’s manifested in extraneous movement that distracts the audience members. The key alternative is for the speaker to be confident and/or trusing in her message and ability to convey it even in the face of fear and anxiety-to work THROUGH the anxiety and not to avoid it.

Moving into the audience creates visual diversity in the presentation. Involving audience members in the presentation topic connects them to one another, creating a community.

Thank you once again Tina for this thoughtful prompt to expand on this physical movement topic.


marthaFebruary 25th, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Great tips and very valuable information! So important to be aware of your body language.

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