How Body Image Affects Making a Speech, Presentations

Question: What is more nerve wracking, exposing, vulnerable, or jeopardizing than making a speech or presentation in front of people?

Answer: Making a speech or presentation in front of people and not having a positive feeling about how you look.

Very few things in life can cause a person to feel as immediately uncomfortable as their appearance. From our physical size to the clothing we wear, body image is a big deal for most of us.

But here is the strange part about it. People get so caught up in their presentation that they forget (or never realize) how a negative body image affects making a speech. It can make all the difference in your success as a public speaker.

Audiences can smell fear and doubt from the back of an auditorium or conference room.

If a person is so worried that an audience will notice how overweight they are, it is certain to color the effectiveness of his or her speech. Whatever the speaker’s insecurity:

• Height
• Weight
• Age
• Dress
• Language
• Facial features
• Concern for remembering important bullet points

This is what will be leading the speaker, driving the speaker to make a less than successful speech.

Though some speakers will try and cover up for a particular insecurity with clothing, they usually wind up worrying about whether the cover up is actually working. Fear of being found out takes over. Rather than being present for the audience and reaching out to the audience with their words, the speaker gets too caught up in worrying about that sweater or jacket that is supposed to cover their stomach (or other troubling body area) feeling in constant jeopardy of being exposed.

Great opportunities are often greatly diminished by low self-esteem or body image. Don’t try to hide what cannot be covered up when giving a speech or presentation. There is a more effective way to overcome concerns with body image.

• Find a way to “make friends” with and accept that part of your body that is bothering you.
• Before beginning, consider whether you are really up to dealing with your personal reflection.
• Begin with the realization that the human body makes a major contribution to a presentation.
• Speeches are words expressed by the entire body – so how you believe an audience sees you is very important to the success of your presentation.

To find out just how healthy your personal body image is, simply stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself.

• What do you like about your body and face? (Of course, it’s easy to go right to the negative. Instead, make every effort to be positive).
• Really look at the part (or parts) that you are less than happy about.
• Be honest about why this area bothers you.
• Be honest about what you can do about the area that troubles you.
• Be honest about what you cannot do about the area that troubles you.

For instance, if it is your weight – are you willing to go on a diet? If so, start! If not – can you live with the extra weight? Can you allow yourself to get past it, “make friends” with it and move on?

Whatever your body image struggle, how you deal with it will affect your success in presentations. If you can get past the negative, you will open up nothing but positive results for you and your audience – and the experience of successful presentations will be yours.

Good luck with this. If you have any questions or comments on how body image affects your ability to give speeches and presentations, please let me know.

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