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Body Language

A few weeks ago I ran my first half marathon in the phoenix park, along with 8,500 poor souls who pounded the pavements in the park. This is all in preparation for my first full marathon attempt in New York in November. As I ran around the park on that cool saturday morning I noticed every bodies body has their own unique language. The way they look, the way move, the way they hold their arms, the way their ankles either under-pronate or over-pronate, and the they keep their head looking straight ahead or down to the ground. Elite runners oozing confidence, with long ostrich like strides of experience, head held high with the knowledge that they looked great in their fashionable compression,  anti-chaffing, anti-bacterial sports gear. While the rest of us at the back were feeling the fear of the unknown and our bodies were falling into the fight or flight syndrome, our nervousness burning up energy that we should really keep for the final two miles up hill to the finish line. During those two hours I realized this is similar to how some people approach public speaking, some are prepared and others are not, and their body language says it all.

Eye contact is so important when you want to connect with your audience. We normally only maintain eye contact fro 40-60 percent of the time, because we are always searching for information in our brains, so we look left right or up or down when we think, and this lack of eye contact can signal nervousness and lack of confidence. So the best way to avoid your eyes moving all over your head while you search for that information in your brain, is to pause briefly before the start of a sentence or before you answer a question. This will allow you compose yourself and speak with confidence.

Your feet have a sixth sense of their own. Did you know that subconsciously your feet will point in the direction where you want to go, before you decide where you want to go. The next time you are in conversation with someone, look down at your feet, one may be pointing towards the exit, which means subconsciously you don’t want to talk to that person. In fact the next time you are in conversation with someone, check out their feet, you may get a surprise.

Please smile, you will be surprised with the reaction you will get from other people. When you smile at someone their automatic response is to mirror your image, so they will smile back which subconsciously makes them more open to suggestion. This allows you the advantage to sell your message, add in a couple of well timed nods and smiles and they will be more receptive to your ideas.

But I have learned that smiling and nodding to fellow joggers doesn’t always get the desired response, maybe its the pain sweat and torn calf muscles that gives them that worried look. So far only 1 in 5 joggers respond with a smile, and thats only on fridays. Let me know how you get on and sign up for my blog alert.

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“Alan Shortt knows his stuff and through his intensive preparation in advance of our session, Alan helped me understand how I really perform from an audience point of view. He provided very effective coaching and tips which I’ am looking forward to using in the future. I feel much more confident.”

About Alan Shortt

Alan Shortt has been working in radio and television in Ireland for the last twenty years, gaining wide experience from both behind and in front of the camera.

He has worked as a presenter, performer, producer, and is currently a regular Contributor on RTE Radio/TV and BBC Radio Ulster. As a live performer he has also learnt first hand, how to face the fear of standing up to speak in front of a live audience. This is where the concept of Media Skills Ireland was born.

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