Eleven Ways to Energize Your Body Language

Using effective body language drives home your humor.  I’m not advocating that bigger is better, because often it’s the small gesture has a magical effect on the laughter you’ll receive. What you want is effective and meaningful gestures.  Here are some ideas for you to try.

1.  Watch a video.  Do you want to evaluate your physical motion while you speak or tell a story?  Watch yourself on video and turn the sound OFF!  It’s a quick check-up to let you know where you might need some work.

2.  Using gibberish.  For segments of your speech that need help on
the physical movement, try delivering that segment in gibberish (a
nonsensical, made-up language).  Since you won’t be working hard on
the word selections you’ll be able to focus on the physical
delivery.  When using gibberish, the physical language is critical
to convey the meaning.

3.  Mirror work.  Record your talk.  When playing the recording,
watch yourself in the mirror and lip sync to your talk. It’ll free
you from concentrating on the content of the speech and let you
focus entirely on your physical delivery.

4.  Mask work.  Some people find that mask-work, performing while
wearing a face-mask (sometimes a costume will have the same
effect), will free up their physical work.  In a sense, while
wearing a mask, they become someone else and are less inhibited.
Try it as an exercise.  A great source for information on Mask Work
is Impro by Keith Johnstone.

5.  Using an accent.  When going into character to tell a story,
try doing it with an accent.  An Italian accent, for example, may
encourage hand gestures.

6.  Link a physical beat to the punchword.  It’s often a great idea
to link a specific gesture to every punch word you use.  It will
help magnify this important word which sets the laughter in motion.

7.  Sometimes less is more.  There are times when a subtle gesture
with the eyes, perhaps the raising of an eyebrow, will have more
impact than a big gesture.  Bigger isn’t always better.

8.  Show rather than tell.  Look for descriptive gestures which
will show what you mean and create a picture, rather than depending
on the words to do all the work.

9.  Extend the gesture.  If you do not normally use big gestures,
look for one opportunity in a talk to use a broad extended gesture.
By forcing yourself to do this, it will hopefully become more
natural for you to include larger gestures automatically.

10.  Physical activity.  A speaking coach suggested that walking
was a great way to improve flexibility on the platform.  In fact
most exercise routines would probably have side benefits
which improve your platform presence.  Martial arts, Tai Chi, Yoga,
many sports and dance classes are all excellent avenues to enhance
the strength, grace and energy of your gestures.

11.  Sign Language classes.  Deaf people are master communicators.
They are especially talented and gifted in the area of gestures,
body language and facial expression.  Taking a sign language class
from a deaf person is a great lesson in physical communication.