Perfect Your Non-Verbal Communication in Workshops – Part 2

When conducting a workshop or giving a presentation, non-verbal communication speaks volumes. It can affect how participants conduct themselves, and how you act also sets the tone for your workshop or presentation.

The proper use of non-verbal communication techniques can really go a long way towards encouraging people to participate in a program. Last time we talked about two of the eight primary non-verbal techniques that facilitators need to be aware of – eye contact and head nodding. This time we will talk about techniques 3 & 4:

Technique #3 – Posture

Posture is critical when you’re facilitating a training program. There are many aspects to posture, but the most important is how you use your arms.

Here are some things not to do with your arms when facilitating a training program.

· Do not fold your arms as it represents a “closed” posture and lack of confidence.

· Do not place your arms on your hips as this represents superior power and authority.

· Do not do the wounded arm – when one arm is clamped on the other arm but that arm is hanging loose.  This is another form of a “closed” posture.

· Do not put your hands in your pockets as you may start playing with whatever is in your pockets.

The best thing to do with your arms is to use them to express your points in a more animated fashion, but use them with purpose. When you are not using your arms, keep them hanging comfortably at your sides. This may seem awkward at first, but will become more natural as you do it more.

Technique #4 – Body Movement

In addition to your arms, you also want to avoid distracting body movements. When you are facilitating, body movement can be very powerful. You must pay attention not to take away from your facilitation with distractions such as walking too much or pacing around the room. Another distracting gesture is to rock back and forth when you’re standing still. All of these will take away from your effectiveness because people will start paying attention to what you are doing rather than what you are saying. Be sure you are moving with purpose.

You also communicate a variety of messages by the way you walk and talk, or stand and sit. Standing erect and leaning forward slightly can send a message to participants that you are approachable, receptive and friendly. If you speak with your back turned or looking at the floor or ceiling, this indicates a level of disinterest whether you intent it or not. These movements should be avoided. Interpersonal closeness results when you and your students face each other.

Stay tuned next time when we talk about the ever important aspect of proximity and vocal quality.

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