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Insights on Communication Skills and Relationship Building

Self Awareness Activities: Are You Aware of Your Presentation Self?

Posted by Elizabeth Levey on May 20, 2015

by Elizabeth Levey

elizabeth-levey-1Did you know that as human beings, we can produce over 700,000 expressions?  I don’t know a dog or a bird who can come even close to that amount. We are an incredibly expressive species! This, of course, includes the full use of our bodies and faces.

Did you know that people will make several firm judgments about you based on your expressions, along with qualities such as attractiveness, likeability, trustworthiness, and competence after looking at your face for merely 100 milliseconds?  This is called a snap judgment.  Remember: judgments can be both positive and negative.

Did you know that according to this study, when asked to pick the image of their hands from a line-up, only about 5% of participants were able to do so correctly?  What does this mean?  That we are NOT very self-aware.

The reason I share these slightly silly facts is to demonstrate that as humans, we are incredibly expressive self-awareness-activities-presentationscreatures, but lack self awareness.  When presenting, it’s important that we cultivate and strengthen this self awareness muscle so we can manage our expressions to achieve as many positive judgments from our audience as possible. 

So how do we do this?  There are many great self awareness activities available, but the gold standard is most definitely the video recording. Set up a video camera, even just one on your phone, and record sections of your presentation rehearsals. Then, playback and analyze!

  • Are you smiling enough?
  • Is your body returning to your neutral position before, after, and in-between deliberate actions?
  • Are your gestures large, expansive, and above the waist? 
  • Are they connected to meaning and purpose? 
  • When you move, are you doing so deliberately and stopping in your neutral position when you arrive at your desired spot? 
  • Is your volume and articulation up to snuff? 
  • Are you using a variety of pitch? 
Yes, these are a lot of details to consider, but all are important to create an effective and engaging presentation.

Everything we do with our voices and our bodies communicates SOMETHING to our audience.  And the question is: is it supporting or detracting from the message we are trying to communicate?  Remember, visual and vocal communication comprise 93% of the information our audience is using to judge us while presenting.  We want our voices and our bodies connecting simultaneously to the message coming out of our mouths. 

The purpose of using a video camera is not to make you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable, but rather to illustrate exactly how you look and sound to your audience. Embrace this technology and use it to exercise and strengthen that all important self awareness muscle!

Give this activity a try and tell us how it goes in the comments!

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Topics: Professional Presence, Presentation Skills Training