Make Body Language Your Superpower | Summary and Q&A

May 14, 2014
Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Make Body Language Your Superpower

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In this video, the speaker discusses the importance of body language in effective communication. They emphasize that body language can either enhance or detract from the message being delivered. The speaker provides examples of both good and bad body language and offers tips on how to stand, gesture, and engage with the audience.

Questions & Answers

Q: What role does body language play in communication?

Body language plays a powerful role in how we communicate. It can either enhance or distract from the message being delivered. It is important to use body language effectively to ensure that our ideas resonate with the audience.

Q: Can body language distract from the message?

Yes, body language can distract from the message. The example of Michael Bay struggling during a presentation due to his nervous body language is given. When we lose sight of what our body is doing, people can only pay attention to the body itself, instead of focusing on the message.

Q: How can body language be utilized effectively in communication?

Body language is like a superpower that can enhance and communicate with every person in the audience. It should be used to strengthen the message being delivered. By understanding how to stand, gesture, and interact with the audience, we can effectively utilize body language to convey our message.

Q: What should be considered when it comes to posture in communication?

Posture is the audience's first impression of the speaker. It is important to stand facing the people you are speaking to, rather than facing visuals or turning your back to the audience. Additionally, knowing where to stand in the room is crucial. Standing in the center and avoiding distractions ensures a position of strength.

Q: What are some bad postures that should be avoided?

Some bad postures that should be avoided include hands in pockets, which comes off as nonchalant, hands on hips, which may make you look overbearing and powerful, and the fig leaf position, where you protect your family jewels with your hands. These positions make it difficult to convey a strong message.

Q: How can one find their base posture?

To find your base posture, stand with your feet hip-width apart, close your eyes, look up towards the ceiling, and lift your hands above your head. Stretch underneath your shoulders and let your arms drop to the side. When you open your eyes, look down. This is your base posture, and it may not feel the most comfortable but it looks the most comfortable to your audience.

Q: Why are gestures important in communication?

Gestures are important because they help in effectively communicating with the audience. The speaker states that using gestures makes the audience remember twice as much. Hand and arm movement is the biggest movement that the audience can see, so it is crucial to use gestures wisely and avoid random and distracting gestures.

Q: What are the three types of gestures mentioned in the video?

The three types of gestures mentioned are the give, the show, and the chop. The give gesture is used to give the audience facts or options, the show gesture has a variety of applications and should match the message, and the chop gesture is used to deliver a strong opinion.

Q: Why should palms be up when gesturing?

Having palms up when gesturing is important because studies have shown that 84% of the audience complies when palms are up, compared to only 52% when palms are down. Fingers should not be used at the audience as it can come off as arrogant. Palms up gestures help in making a deeper connection with the audience.

Q: What should be avoided in gestures?

The speaker advises avoiding terrorist gestures, which are gestures that look silly and do not convey the intended message. Additionally, using fingers at the audience should be avoided as it can be perceived negatively. It is essential to maintain congruency and creativity in gestures.

Q: How can speakers engage with the audience through body language?

Speakers can engage with the audience better by developing observational skills and being mindful of the audience's body language. By looking beyond eye contact, speakers can assess how their audience is responding. If the audience seems disengaged, speakers can try surprising them with questions or humor, or even disrupt the audience's attention to re-engage.


Body language plays a crucial role in effective communication. It can either enhance or distract from the message being delivered. It is essential to stand with good posture, avoid distracting gestures, and engage the audience through effective observation and interaction. By utilizing body language effectively, speakers can become superheroes in connecting with their audience.

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