In a previous blog I talked about “What Are You Saying With Your Body?” In this article I want to talk about the place where your body needs to be before you start speaking – the place of “alignment” where public speaking, or any kind of speaking for that matter, begins.
You are ready to be introduced and take center stage – or ready to stand up in the middle of the group and make a presentation. Wherever you are the focus is now on you. It’s “show time.” Suddenly, fear sets in, your body feels like it’s not connected to your brain, and you can’t remember what you were so well prepared to say. Stop! – there is help on the way and it’s called Neutral Position.
We start at the beginning. You are ready to speak, but what to do with your body. You stand in a “fig leaf” position (hands crossed in front) or a “reversed fig leaf’ (hands crossed in back) – not exactly a powerful way to express yourself. Let’s back up. We must establish a way for your body to begin to feel comfortable when all eyes are directed on you.
Speakers who are comfortable in their bodies have a lovely natural flow in the way they use them. They move over a stage, freely expressing and gesturing as they go.
Here is how to free up your body.
Neutral Position. This is the place from which all presentations originate and to which they all return. Think of this position as the source of your talent. We have neutral position in our cars – now we have one for our bodies. When the body is in a comfortable neutral, just as in cars, we are free to transition to any of our other gears or rather emotional gears.
Stand with you feet planted six to eight inches apart, in line with your legs and hips. Bring your hands to your sides and let them hang freely. WARNING – if you’ve previously been stuck in the fig leaf or other versions of holding on to yourself then standing with your hands at your side will feel very strange at first. You may feel like your hands are on the floor – like a Gorilla or you may be saying to yourself “what do I do with my hands?” You may not love this position at first, this is quite normal when you’re not used to standing in this way. That’s fine. Let it in and let it start to work for you. Neutral is open and receptive, it says “ I am ready.” This in not a place you are stuck in but rather a place that provides a sense of flow. Think of yourself as a tree. As you stand there imagine that your feet are rooted in and supported by the earth. You are not just floating on some surface. You are rooted, grounded and connected. It is very important that you feel this connection with the earth. It has everything to do with success.
You must practice neutral position. Begin by standing still-let the position sink in. Walk around and start to talk about something, a prepared speech? Are you starting to feel a connection between the words you’re saying and your body’s response to them? Allow the meaning of the words to extend through your body, especially your arms and hands. If you want to walk, do it – just don’t pace. Return to neutral. Take a step. Return to neutral. You are leaning to take control of your presentation by being in charge of your body and mind, but not tightly controlling it.
Remember if you’re not in charge tension will be.