Body Language Skills For Speakers

Body Language Skills For Virtual And Hybrid Keynote Speakers.

Body Language Skills For Speakers

Today, I want to talk to you about body language skills for virtual and hybrid keynote speakers.

Body Language Skills For Speakers



Body Language Skills

Hi, it’s James Taylor here, keynote speaker and founder of SpeakersU. 

So there’s something interesting that’s been happening in the world of professional speaking recently, we have seen the move from just in person speaking where you go up on stage and you speak, they’re gradually moving into virtual. So everyone’s been doing virtual keynotes virtual presentations. And we’re now starting to see a move into what we call hybrid keynotes hybrid presentations

So that’s where you’ll have some people in the room that you’re actually physically presenting to, they’re in the same space as you physically. But then there’s other people that are watching virtually in some way. 

Now, there’s an interesting thing to think about, as it relates to body language when you’re communicating in those different environments. There’s a wonderful TED Talk video by the musician, David Byrne. And he talks about how music, the musicians, how their music changed, depending on the rooms where their music is going to be performed in. So for example, choral music, that sound of those kinds of long notes, long held sustained notes, that works really well in big cathedrals. Because those long notice that if you try to do lots of rapid notes, it doesn’t work because the reverb is too long in that space. Likewise, if you think about Mozart, he was having to write for rooms, which were these rectangular boxes. So there’s a certain kind of sound that works very well for that. jazz musicians, if they’re or club musicians, if they’re working in low clubs with low ceilings, you think about bass, how certain things are working, it’s a very intimate type of environment in some of these spaces as well. So the interesting thing is that the space in which you create, whether it’s music, or a speech or performance actually has an impact on the music, the speech and performance itself. So let me give you an example. 


When you’re giving an in person, keynote, in Brazil presentation, you’re up on stage, you’re using your body in a slightly different way, you’re often doing what we call blocking. So you’re basically breaking up the stage and thinking about, okay, when I hit that line, which part of the stage Do I need to be on? When I want to get to this point, what do I want to do? Where do I want to go? Where’s my central point? So basically what we do is called blocking, and it’s used by actors all the time. Now, there’s a number of things that when you’re you’re doing in person, you’re also looking out into the audience, you may be mentally dividing the room up the audience up and think to ensure that when you’re presenting, and you’re talking, that you’re not spending too much time looking at one part of the room or one group of people that you’re taking your gaze around and looking at different points and making eye contact. So people’s people kind of feel like you’re talking to them, because you are talking to them. But where we sometimes see the challenge is when speakers, professional speakers, start to move to virtual, and they start to use the big motions and the big movement that you’d see if you’re on stage, your physicality. And you’re here, you’re in a much smaller frame, a much smaller canvas you’re having to work with. So you’re using your eyes a little bit more, you’re using your facial expressions a little bit more as well. You’re using your hands more, there’s more specificity to the way that you’re using your hands, when communicating, communicating virtually

So if you’ve ever seen, you’ve gone to a theater, and seen a play, where maybe the actor has been a well known actor, but they’ve come from TV and film. Sometimes the problem is that the actor can look a little bit too small, they don’t kind of almost fill the stage with their personnel, the persona, because their movements are very small, quite subtle movements. Likewise, if you sometimes watch a movie, and it has a more traditional theater, the actor hasn’t done a lot of TV and movies before. And their movements are just too big. It just doesn’t doesn’t really connect, it looks hammy, as they say, in the acting business. So we have to think about how we use our body language, our physicality. 

But now the interesting thing we’re seeing is we’re moving now to hybrid. So this is the idea now that I’ll have people in the room that you’re presenting to, but you’re also having other people that are watching virtually via cameras. So what do you do with your body language? Where do you go? So there’s a couple of things to think about. The first is I think, as a speaker, you do have to make a little bit of a decision. Who is my primary audience?

Choose Your Primary Audience

If you think about TV sitcoms, they have a live studio audience in that, but the performance is primarily for the person on the other side of the lens. There’s watching that there’s a people there and that is creating a certain type of atmosphere, but it’s primarily you’re filming and you’re creating that piece of art that works for the people that are watching on the TV on the other side. There’s other types of shows, however, where it’s primarily comedy, live comedy, where they will fill them, they’re performing for the people in the theater in the auditorium, but it’s going to be filmed. So there’s no, no, they have to do certain kinds of things. So you do have to make a little bit of a decision like who is your primary audience, you need to recognize there’s gonna be a secondary audience, but who is your primary audience? Once you know that, you can start to do slightly different things. 

So one of the interesting lessons I was taught by a speaker called Ron Kaufman is when you go into an auditorium, and it is hybrid, where they’re filming in person, and there, you’ve also got people watching on cameras. And there’s people can be watching that way, either synchronously or asynchronously, you want to understand pretty quickly, what your angles, let’s see, if it’s three cameras in an auditorium, the order in a meeting space or conference center conference room, you want to find out go and have a conversation with the director or the camera crew, and ask them, okay, what cameras my close up shot, what’s my wide shot, what’s happened to the third camera. So usually your main shot is the one that’s at the back of the room, that will be your wide shot, that’s the one that you’re often and you’re not really ever kind of speaking to that camera, you’re speaking primarily to the audience, or maybe just off to the camera a little bit. But there might be another camera, that is your close up shot. And they’re going to be a little bit more in that way. So what you’ll tend to do is, if I’m presenting to an audience in the room, and there’s that close up camera there as well, there’s certain lines that are land, and I’ll be talking directly to the people. But as other times, I want to hit an important line. And I’ll be almost either straight down the camera, or sometimes depending on impact, I want to have just slightly off to the camera as well. But I know that it’s capturing me, you know, with that, you know, the much much closer as well. And then you might have a third camera that’s kind of roving behind you as well. So you can see how you have to use your body language, you have to use your eyes in slightly different ways. So the thing is just just to understand, first of all, who is my primary audience? Am I primarily giving the speech for the people in the room, and it’s going to be filmed. And so there’s people gonna be watching virtually, or am I primarily giving this presentation, this keynote to people that are watching virtually, and there happens to be people in the room at the same time. 

Once you know that, you can start to think about how you want to use your body. So if you pray primarily for people in the room, you’re going to be a little bit bigger in the way because you primarily for the camera, it’s gonna be a little bit tighter, then you’re going to want to be using your your movements, you really want to know what those cameras those close up shots, you might have to close up shots for different things, different lenses on them, for example, as well. So hopefully I just give you a little of an indication that hybrids aren’t challenging hybrids, I’m not gonna lie to you it isn’t always much easier doing an in person 100% in person or 100% virtual doing hybrids, you can have thinking about two different things, but they are in order. Is it in person first, the audience first in person? Or is it the virtual audience first, which has primacy? My name is James Taylor. I love to get your comments. We leave those comments here below. Thanks for reading.