There is a Toastmasters speech project in the first manual called “Your Body Talks.” It is all about how to use gestures effectively in front of an audience. One of the things gestures do is establish credibility. People can usually spot a liar.
A long time ago, I took a class from an instructor who was excellent at reading people. I was nervous. She noticed it. She said that it was obvious in that I smiled all the time, giggled, and couldn’t put both feet on the floor. She was right. I was scared of the unknown. My guard is always up.
I learned how to breathe to help with the anxiety. And later I learned about feet. There is a gentleman in my Toastmasters club who is legally blind. When he looks at a speaker in our meeting space, while he can’t see a lot, he does notice feet. That part of his vision is clear. Shortly after I gave my second speech, he pulled me aside and said I should think about what my feet are doing. He could see that I fidgeted a lot and tended to pick up one foot. It showed I was nervous. “Stand still. You’ll be all right.” Fred is an excellent speaker and a good mentor. I appreciated him taking the time to tell me the truth.
A good leader is honest. Fidgeting, looking away, or already moving toward the door indicate a lack of confidence and strength to some people. I thought about my feet when I stood behind the lectern. I think about my hands when I’m scared. I tend to fidget or cross my arms. Actually, I cross my arms because I’m cold a LOT. I pretend that my hands are really heavy and I have to touch the ground. That lowers my shoulders, too, which tend to scrunch up when I’m scared.
Then something happens. If I remember to put all of those things where they should be—hands at my sides, head up, shoulders back, and breathing deep—I have the confidence I didn’t have before. I have the credibility to lead. I feel like I can lead. Thank you, Fred.