Your Speaking Ability is 50% of how you speak and 50% of how you look while doing so.
Effective speaking is a performance. You would never enjoy watching a movie or play in which an actor passionately spoke while never moving.
To make a speech seem organic and natural it is necessary to say with your body what you say with your voice.
Too often speakers make the mistake of keeping their hands in their pockets or holding onto a podium. This makes a speech seem very serious and restricted. The speaker is not speaking to the audience but to an object.
In contrast, it is also very common to let your hand gestures distract the audience. Speakers will make grand and sporadic gestures when they are very emotional or passionate and this causes the speech to lose a sense of credibility as it may seem out of control.
The best way to ensure that your hand gestures are neither of the above is to imagine a box in front of yourself while speaking (but don’t look down at your hands!). Keep your hands within this box while occasionally going to its edges or center.
It can also be very awkward deciding where to put your hands while not making any gestures; what the rest position of your hands ought to be.
Try cupping one hand in another and letting the two rest and come apart as you speak. The positioning is a great combination of reserved and enthusiastic.
If your speech is very passionate, feel free to go outside of the box a bit and be slightly more exaggerated. If your speech is very serious and has a calmer tone, you may want to be a bit more reserved. Your hand gestures reflect your tone!
A lot of effective public speaking has to do with the individual’s preferred style. Some people prefer to pace around the room and some prefer to stay standing still. There are effective and ineffective ways to do both!
The key with positioning while speaking is to ask yourself: Am I distracting or engaging my audience?
If you prefer to stand still while speaking, make sure that you have angled yourself appropriately towards your audience. Directly facing your audience head on will make it very difficult to connect with each member.
By angling yourself, you effectively create a very open position to your audience. This also comes in handy if you have some sort of presentation or visual aiding your speech.
You never want to put yourself in the position of having to turn around to glance at a visual. Instead, stand accordingly so that you don’t have to crane your neck to see what’s behind you.
Similarly, if you’re a speaker who enjoys pacing around a room decide ahead of time what your “boundaries” are going to be. The key is to make sure your entire audience can see you at all times.
If you’re in an amphitheater, try to avoid walking up and down the aisles because you’re requiring your audience to strain to see you and this can lose people very quickly.
Instead, stay roughly within your predetermined boundaries and pace slowly, calmly, and move in a comfortable manner.