Basics of Body Language in Webinars - dummies

Basics of Body Language in Webinars

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

How you move your body in a webinar can sometimes communicate as much as what you say with your mouth. Unfortunately, we’re mostly oblivious to what our hips are trying to say or what our hand gestures really mean.

Regardless, the body acts as a strong communication tool that leads others to understand them a little better, but at times, can also muddy the waters. We’ve all heard of little traits that contradict the spoken word, such as a person touching his ear when he’s asked a question (which can indicate lying), or looking away when asked a direct question (indicates not wishing to answer).

Regardless of whether we’re aware of any of it, the audience can pick up on some gesture or motion and make assumptions about what it means. To avoid sending mixed signals and to understand your own body language, it’s a good idea to examine some of the more oblivious gestures.

Remember, body language is not an exact science. These are just a set of guidelines to consider. Here are a few examples of what body language can say during your presentation. Don’t just look at the list and assume these are all things to avoid; rather, check out what can work for dramatic effect:

  • Crossing the arms: Unless it’s really cold in the room, this could mean the speaker is either reserved or trying to cover their self-consciousness.

  • Hands on hips: This gesture can be construed as an aggressive call for action, or a sign of waiting or impatience.

  • Clinched fist: This is a sign of irritation, nervousness, or anger, or could refer to a call for action.

  • Direct eye contact: True, you’re looking into the camera, but viewers feel that you’re looking into their eyes. When you look someone directly in the eye, you’re establishing trust and truthfulness. Conversely, when you look away as you say something, it can mean you’re either not convinced of what you’re saying or not telling the truth.

  • Tilted head: Maybe the speaker is a Labrador Retriever that just heard an unfamiliar word. If it’s an actual human, however, a tilted head combined with a smile can indicate playfulness. Combined with a raised eyebrow, it can mean a challenge. If the speaker also has a slightly open mouth, a tilted head can express confusion.