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It's about how you say it, not what you say...

Posted by
27 Aug 2014

Watching the second televised debate on Scottish independence on Monday 25th August, I was struck by just how significant body language can be in the important task of getting your message across.

For those who didn't watch it, and for those who did who want to hear my opinion, Alistair Darling initially appeared passionate and fired up. He stood behind his lecturn looking directly at the audience, pointing his finger at Alex Salmond occasionally, but at times he seemed agitated and perhaps a little bewildered. 

I have to admit, I was disappointed; he looked to have passion and energy, but appeared to be missing the mark perhaps? He ended up looking a bit hot and bothered, which may have been translated into looking desperate...

Alex Salmond however came across as someone who had had some lessons in public speaking. He appeared relaxed and smiling, and when a question was directed at him he moved in front of his lecturn to take a more informal approach. He clasped his hands for emphasis, elaborating by using them in a rounded fashion, emphasising the inclusiveness of what he was saying to accommodate and cajole the audience to agree with him. 

It was clever and it worked - the response from the floor was far more supportive and energised than the weaker, more nervous presentation of Alistair Darling.

Public speaking is a learned skill and can appear to somewhat of a 'dark art.' It's an ability that perhaps isn't understood in depth, but becomes obvious when it is lacking. 

The power to take an audience with you is essential when you are delivering a message, no matter of its importance.

Steve Jobs was an expert in this; he was nervous and inexperienced when he started delivering messages for Apple, but after some training he looked like the consummate expert, delivering inspiring and passionate speeches which carried the audience. His body language was masterful and I think Alex Salmond probably learnt a thing or two from him!

So my message is: if you are delivering a talk - whether it be to your colleagues or to a room of 100 strangers - do your homework, rehearse rehearse rehearse, and always keep your body language at the forefront of your mind; if you are conscious of what you are doing, you will be more successful in delivering what you want.

For more information on body language during your job search, such as interview techniques and making sure you are presenting yourself in the best possible manner, then contact me on 0161 8341642 or e-mail

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