body language

Joel Osteen's Hands Betrayed Him


What do gestures tell us about a public speaker? We learned a lot about Joel Osteen's gestures during his interview about his response to the hurricane. Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the city of Houston which is the 4th largest city in the country. There was extensive flooding requiring people to be evacuated by rescue workers and helicopters. Thousands of people were in search of shelter and could not return to their homes.


The question people wanted to know was Why didn't Pastor Joel Osteen open Lakewood Church to the people of Houston? The Compaq Center has the capacity to hold 16,285 people. After much criticism on social media, the center accepted hurricane victims on Tuesday.

When Joel was interviewed by CBS TV he explained that he didn't open his center as a shelter because he was not asked by the city. He further explained that the best places for shelter were where there were already resources, supplies, and personnel on the ground. It didn't sound convincing on the surface. But he still could have salvaged his reputation by admitting the mistake and being remorseful. Instead, he pivoted to his message points and gave what seemed to be a presentation. His hands were the giveaway. He used the same wide-sweeping gestures that are part of his signature style when he is on the main stage in front of thousands of people. The CBS interview was directed to three journalists (although it was broadcast to millions of viewers). In media interviews and conversations, people gesture more naturally with their hands closer to their body.

While using wider gestures may be part of the pastor's style, it gave the impression of formality rather than intimacy and sincerity. That is not to say he was dishonest. I'll leave that to the top body language experts. The point is this. To appear sincere, your body language needs to be relaxed and appropriate to the situation. Wide gestures work well in a stadium but seem exaggerated when communicating on a television show or satellite interview. For crisis communication to be effective, it's imperative to plan your delivery as well as your message points.

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First Impressions (by Kathy McShane) Guest Blogger

McShane book_First Impressions impact all pubic speaking and communication. Read about First Impressions in an Excerpt from The Survivor’s Guide for Female Entrepreneurs, by Guest  Blogger  Kathy McShane We only have one chance to make a first impression. And that first impression can mean everything as you set out to make your mark in the business world. According to, a website providing free career skills and management techniques, it takes just a quick glance – maybe three seconds – for someone to evaluate you when you first meet, and this first impression is unlikely to change. So it’s important to think about the impression you want to leave. After all, as a small business owner, you are the face of your business.

When making that all-important first impression, keep these ideas in mind:

Body language speaks volumes. People you meet for the first time will pay as much attention to your body language as they will to your words. In fact, you’ll be judged by your body language before you even open your mouth. Be sure to uncross your arms and have an easy, ready smile at all times. Straighten your posture and offer a strong handshake.

Dress for the occasion. Find out what the “dress code” is at the location where you’ll be meeting people and plan appropriately. Choose an outfit that will complement your personality, boost your confidence and feel comfortable. Don’t wear a suit if you’re visiting a high-tech company, and don’t wear blue jeans to a bank. One business owner, hoping to seal a $24 million deal, was in competition with two other groups. The potential client told them all to dress in summer casual. The two competitors dressed in pinstriped suits. Guess who got the deal?

Be in the moment. Pay attention to the people you are meeting. Greet them with a firm handshake, look them in the eye and smile. Repeat their names as a way of remembering. Before going into the meeting or event, turn off digital devices.

Be engaged. Become immediately engaged in your discussion with the other person. Make sure to mention his or her name at least once during your conversation. This shows that you are interested and that you’ve paid attention.

Don’t interrupt. Unfortunately, people talk over each other and interrupt all the time. It may have to do with the digital age that we live in, which makes us feel that everything has to be responded to immediately. It’s easy to text or email while the other person is doing the same; in effect, you are engaged with your device and not with the person. When you are meeting someone face to face, however, be sure the other person is finished speaking before you begin to add to the conversation. Allow yourself to take a breath and process the previous comments. The silence may seem like forever, but it’s usually only a few seconds.

Throughout our journey as entrepreneurs, we will meet a lot of people and make many connections. And every connection gives us only one chance to make a great first impression. Be sure to make the most of it!

The Power of Hand-to-Hand Contact

What is the equal opportunity communication that favors no gender? In every presentation skills seminar and in each initial executive speech coaching session, I spend time demonstrating the business handshake. Why discuss something so basic that we do every day? Because business can be lost due to an ineffective handshake. Just like two dogs sniffing each other, a handshake is the first point of contact. And many people don't realize the handshake is a presentation. To learn how to shake hands  and use gestures for  maximum impact, watch this TEDx video by Allan Pease.


Body Language is the Message


A professor once said, "Words conceal rather than reveal". If that's true, how does the listener hear the real message? The answer is the study of pragmatics. Non-verbal communication is as important to every public speaker as the words they prepare. But too often, public speaking becomes an exercise in memorizing words without much thought to their physical presentation.

If the public speaker is unprepared, it will be communicated through nervous body language. The body will betray the presenter every time. Most of the message is non-verbal. For that reason, it's imperative that public speakers study pragmatics. Watch this video to learn about body language.

I've Got the Power: How to Feel Powerful As a Public Speaker


You may be about to go on stage to speak before a difficult audience. Maybe you're getting ready for a job interview. Or you could be about to present at a high stakes meeting. There is a way you can automatically feel powerful when speaking in public or giving a presentation. It's all about mastering body language. Yes, there is a body language of power. I'm not talking about "posturing" and psyching the other person out. Power is about putting your body into certain positions before you enter the presentation room. There's a science to body language and power. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, explains how to go from powerless to powerful and it's all in your control. Watch her TED talk to learn how these positions can make you a powerful leader, public speaker, or job candidate.

Confidence Class for Teens: Focus on Image

Public speaking is taught too late, if at all. Confidence results from a good self image and from developing skills. Good public speaking skills are paving the way to a confident self image for these girls.

Maximize Your One-to-One Communication

One-on-one conversations happen more frequently than any other kind of communication. One of the biggest mistakes people make when speaking one-to-one, is not treating it as a presentation.  While people prepare extensively for group presentations, when it comes to one-to-one, they wing it. Even the most casual conversation benefits from preparation. An effective tool for one-on-one communication is the DiSC Personal Profile System. DiSC helps you to understand your communication style and recognize the communication styles of others so that you can get the results you want. Contact us for a FREE sample report.

Here's an excerpt from Knockout Presentations about one-to-one communication.

Speaking to an individual is different from the group experience. Whether you're training someone, selling, coaching, or asking for a raise, here are some tips for speaking one-to-one.

  • Eliminate distractions. Choose a comfortable setting-perhaps your office or a conference room with good lighting. Block off distracting window views and minimize interruptions. Clear the table of clutter.
  • Sit next to the person at eye level. Sit side by side rather than across a desk from each other. This has psychological and physical effects. It creates a feeling of being on the same side and allows both people to look at materials from the same perspective.
  • Maintain good eye contact but don't stare. In a group, you make eye contact with everyone. With individuals, you don't want to lock eyes. Break eye contact from time to time. A good guide is to look at the person 70% of the time.
  • Use visual aids. Props, pictures, and objects can serve as effective visual aids. Visuals are important learning tools, and you shouldn't overlook them in a one-to-one situation. Be sure your visuals are appropriate to the situation. A few carefully placed props and occasional use of a table easel can enhance your presentation.
  • Clarify but don't repeat questions. In a large group, you repeat the question so that everyone can hear it. But in one-to-one settings, the same technique would be silly. You may ask for clarification: "Are you saying that you need more practice?" Or you may restate the question in your answer: "The procedure for this project is..."
  • Maintain a comfortable physical distance. Don't invade the other person's space. When sitting side by side, don't lean in or take over the person's materials. Ask permission to demonstrate with or alter their materials.
  • Pause. The brain needs a few seconds to process information. Don't overload the learner with too much data. Pause between thoughts to let the information sink in.
  • Use smaller gestures. Show enthusiasm and get involved with the learner. Allow yourself to be natural and expressive. But contain your gestures, because the physical space is smaller in one-to-one situations. Wide, sweeping movements will seem out of place.
  • Prepare and organize. It's easy to lose track of time when you're working with only one person. Whether you train one person or a hundred, the preparation is the same. Without adequate preparation, you'll seem disorganized and unprofessional. Prepare an outline and establish time frames.
  • Watch for nonverbal cues. In a group, different personalities react in diverse ways. Someone in the group will often say what others are thinking. In a one-to-one situation, however, the person may feel reluctant to tell you that he or she needs a break or doesn't understand. Watch for body language and continually check back: "You look like you disagree." "Are you ready for a break?" "Is this something you can use on the job?"

Whether you're speaking to one person or a thousand, communication happens one- to- one.  It's all public speaking.

Contact us for a FREE sample DiSC report to learn your personal communication style.

What TV Anchors Can Teach Executives About Public Speaking

Executives need broadcasting skills. I've been saying it for years.  Media training is critical these days for everybody but especially for executives who are the face of the   organization and who lead global businesses. Public speaking and media skills apply to public service announcements, internal video commercials and now company webcasts are using video. Speaking before a camera is  different from speaking live in a town hall format. So here are some quick speaking and media training tips to keep in mind when your presentation is being filmed.

  • Keep your energy high.  Television can be an energy drain.  Speak with enthusiasm.
  • Smile. It's important to show teeth. Otherwise, you'll look too serious or scared.
  • Use make-up. This applies to men and women. Bright lights can cause perspiration so have some pressed powder handy. Don't use lotions under your make-up. It will create a shiny finish.
  • Avoid metallic or shiny materials which can cause glare.
  • Ask about the backdrop color. Don't wear black if the background is black. You'll look like a mime. Never wear kelly green or shiny, bold patterns that can cause shimmer called moire.
  • Anchor yourself. Even a slight bounce will be exaggerated on camera.
  • Look directly into the camera and not at individuals. The director or camera person will take the necessary audience shots.
  • Use fewer and  smaller gestures.
  • Speak in soundbites. Television is a fast medium. Think of commercials and movie trailers-quick, short, compelling.
  • Rehearse your presentation several times.  If it's a live broadcast and you make a mistake, keep going.
  • Don't say anything more until you're told you're off the air. It's not over 'til it's over.

Video is the hottest marketing tool and in-house video webcasts will become the norm for executive speaking. Get media trained. It's time for your close-up.

What Accupuncture Taught Me About Public Speaking

Last week, I was at the doctor's office getting my second acupuncture treatment for a shoulder injury. The first treatment went well. I enjoyed the stillness as the doctor silently inserted the needles along my arm and neck I expected to feel a sharp jab. But I didn't feel the needles. It sounds hard to believe but you really don't feel much. It felt relaxing as I sat there hooked up to electrical stimulation for about 20 minutes. The following week I had another appointment and this time the doctor was very chatty and loud. He inserted a needle in my neck like the last time but this time I yelled out, "Ouch. That hurt". What was going on? The doctor kept talking. He probably felt more comfortable chatting with me but I preferred the stillness to the conversation. He left while the acupuncture did the work. When he returned, he was quiet as he removed the needles. Ahh. No pain.

I pondered why it hurt the second time and realized that he wasn't centered, in the moment, in the zone, or on me. He was focused on his verbal chatter. It made me think about public speaking. We can give the same presentation and be good one time and off our game the next time. While there are factors such as time of day, the audience, the room temperature, the venue-these are excuses. A professional speaker can rise above it all. I think we lose our momentum, the magic, the impact when we change our focus. When we turn our focus inward on our insecurities, nervousness, or the bad day we had it's like walking on pins and needles. We lose focus when we forget the reason we're speaking is to make a difference, an impact on other lives. Just like the experienced doctor who talked throughout the procedure, when we have a monologue with ourselves instead of speaking to the audience, it can feel like that jab in the neck. Public speaking is not about running our mouths. It's about connecting. It's about conveying a message. It's the meeting of minds and hearts in the words and in the silence.

One Minute Listening Tip: Body Language

What words conceal, the body reveals. Body language accounts for 55% of the message. If you turn off the sound on your video or TV screen you'll be able to read the mood of the speaker. We can hide our true thoughts by choosing words carefully. Politicians are adept at dodging questions and issues by using language skillfully.So listen to  the body  language. The body doesn't lie.  This video will show you the importance of body signals. The most effective listeners tune into non-verbal communication.