I learned from a very seasoned speaker to nod while speaking. There’s something contagious about a nod. When you start to nod at positive points in your presentation others will match your nod and you’ll gain agreement from a wider range in your audience.
There are two schools of thought based on accessibility. There are some speakers who isolate themselves from their audience, but I believe the more available you are, the more impact you will make.
While speaking, do not hide behind the podium or table. Get right out there and be with your audience. After you’ve spoken, stay around so your audience can speak with you. If you’re at a trade show or doing a keynote at a convention, stay at the same hotel as the attendees. You’d be amazed at the good will it will create for you.
Always video tape every presentation you do. Use the video to review your presentations. What is working, what isn’t? You’d be amazed at what you can tell from the video. You’ll see what works, what doesn’t, your stories that get the best reactions and the ones that don’t work.
When I first started speaking I would stand up in front of the room and not move one inch from where I began. It took an entire year before I was comfortable enough to move about six inches in either direction. Then I spent another year to learn how to use my hands and arms with any accuracy.
At first I’d be talking about how it’s important to keep your attitude up and my right arm would fall drastically down . . . not the right impression for the message I was portraying.
I found that Brian Tracy has videos that you can watch to learn how the most masterful speaker utilizes hand jesters. It might look easy, but when you’re in front of a crowd, it seems safe to put your hands in your pockets or have them flaying all over the place. Learn from the best.
Eye contact is always a difficult concept to master at first. The standard rule is to look long enough at someone so that you know the color of their eyes. Then move on. I have found that you’ll recognize when someone is paying apt attention to you. Attach yourself to their energy and others will follow. Then broaden the scope of your attention until you have the majority of the group paying attention.