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Chapter 30. Let Me Hear Your Body Talk: ... > It's Later Than You Think - Pg. 248

Let Me Hear Your Body Talk: Body Language 248 Your body language can reveal a lot about your feelings, both good and bad. On one end of the scale, the way you hold your hands, arms, and torso can help you communicate your message in a polished and professional manner. On the other hand, inappropriate body language can kill any chance you have of bonding with the audience. And not understanding body language can make it much more difficult for you to enjoy your speech and get your message across. In this chapter, you'll learn about nonverbal communication and the public speaking process. Up- coming sections deal with making eye contact, using body language to your advantage, and un- derstanding nonverbal communication in other cultures. By the end of the chapter, you'll be well on your way to matching nonverbal and verbal communication to make your speeches dynamic and effective personal statements. The Hidden Persuaders People often think of a speech as merely a series of words spoken aloud. Not so! Actually, you communicate as much to an audience through nonverbal means as you do through words. Eye contact, platform movements, appearance, and the motions you make as you begin and end a speech can say a great deal about you and your message. As a result, nonverbal communication --communication that doesn't use words--is key to your success as a public speaker. Dr. Ray Birdwhistell, one of the leading scholars in nonverbal communication, claims that words account for only 35 percent of what we communicate; the rest is largely accomplished by body language. Although that figure may be exaggerated, it does emphasize the importance of nonverbal communication for public speakers: You can communicate as much through what the audience sees as what they hear. Your nonverbal communication "says" a great deal about you and your message. Talk Soup Nonverbal communication refers to a series of gestures and body language that do not rely on words to convey meaning. Most of the time, we're no more conscious of interpreting nonverbal signals than we're conscious of breathing. Yet nonverbal signals can be misinterpreted just as often as verbal symbols (words). And nonverbal misunderstandings can be harder to clear up because people may not be aware of the nonverbal cues that led them to misunderstandings in the first place. It's Later Than You Think When does your speech actually begin? Choose one of these answers: · When you enter the room · When you approach the podium · When you start speaking Answer: Your speech begins when you enter the room. Your audience will form an opinion of you the minute they see you. It's no lie: First impressions do count, especially when it comes to public speakers. You may communicate leadership, poise, and self-confidence--or timidity, nervousness, and fear--just by the way you approach the platform.