Haris Ahmed Chicago: How Your Body Language Affects Your Public Speaking
Haris Ahmed, from Chicago, is the CEO and founder of Pragmatium Consulting Group, Inc., an executive consulting company that has clients all over the country, including some Fortune 500 companies. Instilling a culture of public speaking and debate is one of the advocacies that Haris Ahmed supports in Chicago, and he believes that this culture has the potential to help shape America’s youth positively. Today, he writes about how a public speaker can effectively use body language to help deliver a message.
To be effective, a public speaker must master many facets of the art, including content, diction, and delivery. Body language plays a key role in shaping the delivery of a speech and how an audience responds to it. What are the different elements of body language?
Many first-time speakers are afraid of facing a large crowd. However, for Haris Ahmed, many Chicago CEOs taking the stage for the first time are also afraid of having such a large amount of space in front of them. Because many of them are used to speaking to other people in more confined and controlled environments, they don’t know what to do with all the space in front of them, to their sides, and behind them. Haris reminds them that the space around a speaker belongs to him/her, at least for the duration of the speech, and that they should feel free to move about as if it is theirs. It is tough to find a balance between occupying too much of a stage and moving in too little of it, but the mastery of space makes one a commanding speaker.
Speakers do not move in a vacuum, and they are not disembodied voices. However, Haris Ahmed, sees Chicago CEOs speak as if they were not on stage. He recommends starting in a neutral posture, with hands to the side, as it suggests an openness and vulnerability to feedback. Next, the speaker’s gestures should be strong and clearly-defined; a fist-pump, for instance, should be delivered with force, not half-heartedly. However, one should take care not to let gestures and movement do the speaking themselves. The audience is there to listen to a speech, not to watch a mime.
The difference between a good speaker and a mediocre one, Haris Ahmed of Chicago says, is that a good speaker knows how to use props. By props, we do not just mean stage backgrounds; we are also referring to objects such as laser pointers, clickers, or slideshows. An excellent speaker knows that props are there to help get a point across to the audience, and to help define how the audience perceives the speech. Many speakers fall into the trap of letting their props, for instance, a slideshow, do the speaking for them. However, this should not be the case. A slideshow only exists to reinforce their points; the meat of the discussion should come from the speaker him/herself. Many excellent speakers, in fact, can take any prop on stage and use it to make their speeches better.