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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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It’s all about the body language

SMU Business professor Jack Miao gave a lecture on Public speaking for leaders during the third leadership workshop held by the Leadership Certificate Program.
Sarah Acosta
SMU Business professor Jack Miao gave a lecture on “Public speaking for leaders” during the third leadership workshop held by the Leadership Certificate Program.

SMU Business professor Jack Miao gave a lecture on “Public speaking for leaders” during the third leadership workshop held by the Leadership Certificate Program. (Sarah Acosta)

Jack Miao, a professor for the Cox School of Business and Business Leadership Institute, told students Tuesday night during a leadership workshop, called “Public Speaking for Leaders: Scared to death of speaking in front of others?” that the most important part of giving a speech is not based on the content of the speech but on the speaker’s body language.

“Who cares if you forget a percentage,” Miao said. ” People don’t remember the content, trust me. Most people think that if they say the wrong thing then everyone will find out. Who will find out? You’re the only one who knows the content.”

In fact, Miao said what most people first notice about a speaker is how they are standing. Miao said that the best way to stand is with one foot in front of the other with your weight on the back foot so that you don’t move. Also crucial to good body language is correct use of gestures.

“Don’t put your hands in your pockets,” Miao said. “The only person who can do that is Jay Leno and he gets paid a few million to do so.”

Miao also said that students should be wary of memorizing their speeches or over doing gestures because it looks awkward to their audience.

“Be communicative with your gestures,” Miao said. “If it’s big, show them it’s big, but don’t memorize your speech because when you speak naturally your hands will move accordingly.”

Other key advice Miao offered to students was to be prepared before giving a speech. Students should keep in mind not only their objective of the speech but also who their audience is, the time frame they’re allowed and their purpose.

Miao described public speaking as an information package that the speaker is sharing with the audience. However, that package may be ignored if the speaker fails to gain the audiences’ attention immediately.

“The intro to a speech is very important,” Miao said. “Instead of saying my name is so and so, try and find something that would interest (your audience) or grab their attention. Then you can slide your name in afterwards.”

Besides including an introduction, body and close within the speech, Miao said that the speaker should also keep in mind where he or she is looking during a speech.

“Keep eye contact at all times with someone in the audience,” Miao said. “Talk to people for a few seconds each then try to look at someone else. Try and have a conversation with them so that you are showing credibility with your eyes.”

Before concluding the workshop, Miao offered one last tip for students who deal with butterflies during public speaking.

“You may feel butterflies in your stomach, but nobody can tell,” Miao said. “It’s all in your mind.”

This workshop was a part of a series of ten in part of the Leadership Certificate Program. The next workshop, “What Is Leadership: Webster isn’t too helpful with this one, is he?,” will be on March 27 at 5 p.m. in Hughes-Trigg Portico A.

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