Perfect Your Non-Verbal Communication in Workshops – Part 1

When conducting a workshop or giving a presentation, non-verbal communication speaks volumes. In fact, it can dramatically affect how participants conduct themselves in return. Your non-verbal communication sets the tone for your workshop or presentation because what you do often speaks more loudly than what you say, and therefore you want to be aware of the non-verbal cues you are giving, and the tone you are setting.

The proper use of non-verbal communication techniques can really go a long way towards encouraging people to participate in a program. Here are two of the eight primary non-verbal techniques that facilitators need to be aware of when conducting a training program or giving a presentation:

Technique #1 – Eye Contact

We all know that a good leader makes eye contact with people when they are speaking. The same goes for learning environments like workshops. Eye contact is one of the most important elements of interpersonal communication. Eye contact helps control the flow of communication, and it also signals the level of interest in others.

Furthermore, eye contact increases the speaker’s credibility. Teachers who make eye contact convey interest, concern, warmth and credibility.

With this in mind, you will want to make eye contact with every participant in the workshop and connect with them and make them feel valued and important. Some theories suggest that you can pick out a few people and just speak to them, but as a facilitator in a learning program,  you need to make eye contact with everyone in your workshop.

A powerful technique for making eye contact with everyone in the room is to use the “Lighthouse Technique.”  Think about the lighthouse as a sweeping flash of light that holds your attention.  Same is true with eye contact.  If you sweep the audience with your eyes, staying 2-3 seconds on each person, your audience will feel that you are speaking to him/her personally and ensure their attention.

Technique #2 – Head Nodding

Failing to make gestures while speaking can give people the impression that you are boring, stiff and inanimate. A lively teaching style works to capture a participant’s attention; makes the material more interesting; facilitates learning; and includes a sense of entertainment.

Nodding your head, a key gesture, will communicate positive reinforcement to students and indicate that you are listening. Nodding your head shows that you are understanding what somebody is saying. By showing this understanding, you affirm participants which helps them to feel safe and open up. Also, by not interrupting and allowing some silence, gives them time to formulate their thoughts and get to the point they really want to make. By nodding your head, you are encouraging participants to speak and feel valued.

Stay tuned next time for Part 2 where we will look at techniques 3 & 4.

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