How can body language impact an audience?

Asked by Anonymous

Body language can be a very powerful tool, no matter the size of the audience.  Whether it is two people or two hundred people, body language can directly influence how audience members see a person or respond to what is being said.  Body language has the power to influence the audience's feelings and even change minds.  Therefore, it is important always to be mindful of one’s body language as the “saying” when engaging with different audiences.

Within interpersonal exchanges, body language can contain many different emotions or signals.  By ensuring that a person’s body language is “consistent” with their emotional state, someone can create a safe environment for conversation to happen. If one’s body language is inconsistent with their emotional state, this might leave an audience feeling uncomfortable, put off, or on edge. They won’t know what to expect from that person. 

For example, a person might want to make a listener feel “comfortable” and “laid back” during a conversation.  If this is the goal, they will want to avoid having “closed off” or “unfriendly” body language, such as avoiding eye contact or crossing their arms. To make somebody feel more comfortable within a conversation, someone should focus on being “open” with their posture and stance.  They should relax their face and make sure to hold the listener’s gaze and face the listener in an “open” position (a.k.a. with arms at their side and slightly leaning towards the listener).

For larger audiences, body language is particularly important.  Body language can influence whether or not an audience feels confident or trusting of a speaker’s expertise. If a speaker’s body language comes across as being “nervous” or “hesitant,” then an audience might not take what they are saying seriously or be less likely to believe them or find them credible. Furthermore, body language can elicit different responses from an audience and influence how they receive the information being presented. If someone uses aggressive movements with their hands or arms, then an audience might feel excited or exhilarated. If a speaker has more fluid or flowing gestures, it might make the audience feel more relaxed. 

(Masters, of, Social, Work)