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7 ways to be a better communicator — by tweaking your body language |

via 7 ways to be a better communicator — by tweaking your body language |

This post is part of TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from people in the TED community; browse through all the posts here.

Public speaking is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences that many of us face in our daily lives (although it’s dropped off the list of Americans’ biggest fears in recent years, replaced by more immediate threats like … sharks?).

Part of our fear is about what we’re going to say, but the other part is about how we’re going to say it, according to communications expert David JP Phillips (TEDxZagreb Talk: The 110 techniques of communication and public speaking). Phillips has spent years analyzing 5,000 public speakers to identify what moves work — and which ones don’t — when talking to an audience.

When we think of body language, many of us immediately think about hand and arm gestures. But body language is so much more than that — and it’s also something that we should all get comfortable with. By making small, easy tweaks to how we stand, move or even smile, we can help hold an audience’s attention. While Phillips has an entire 110-step system to public speaking, there’s no way or need to master them before your next presentation. Here, he shares 7 body-language tips that anyone can use.

Lean towards your audience

“Taking a step back indicates that you are threatened and makes your audience feel less relaxed,” says Phillips, who is based in Sweden. “Whenever we are threatened, we tend to close our body language, tense our muscles, and take a step back.” Crossing your arms is another move to avoid — it’s something else that people do when they’re nervous or scared and it puts those watching us on the defensive. So keep your arms open, and lean towards your audience. Make sure your head is inclined too; tilting your head backwards signals to your listeners that you feel superior to them.

Match your gestures to your words

Phillips’ rule of thumb when it comes to hand gestures: Make them functional (they should always have a purpose) and make sure they match your message. “The core of all communication is to make your message as clear as possible,” Phillips notes. If you’re talking about sales figures going up, that’s a good time to use a gentle, rising motion. If you’re setting two rhetorical options out for your audience to consider, place your hands on either side as if you’re weighing items in your palms. Humans are visual creatures, and movement will arouse an audience’s attention. But do not abuse this tendency. “If a person is using non-functional gestures, they can become annoying very quickly,” explains Phillips. “Functional gestures, however, are rarely used too much.”

Give your hands a rest

Most of us struggle mightily with what to do with our hands while talking. Put them in our pockets? (No, says Phillips: Too closed off.) Clasp them behind our back? (Nope: Domineering and overly formal.) Phillips has a whole lexicon of poses not to do with one’s hands, such as the “the prayer” (hands clasped in front) and “the beggar” (hands in front, palms up). And then there’s “the peacock”: hands on hips with elbows flapping loosely at your sides. “You often see this one being used by people who are nervous and who desire to quickly become ‘bigger’ in front of their opponent,” he explains. Phillips’s recommendation: “Leave your hands by your sides when you’re not using them.”

Tilt your head

Some of the ways that humans communicate nonverbally are pretty hardwired in us, says Phillips. One of these nonverbal signals is something you probably do all the time without realizing: When you’re trying to show empathy, you tilt your head to one side. “Good listeners are head tilters,” Phillips says. The same empathy signals work — even when you’re the one doing the talking.

Smile like you mean it

One of the most important things that a public speaker can do is deliver a Duchenne smile — the kind of genuine grin that fills your face and reaches your eyes. People respond more warmly to a Duchenne smile. “It will help make the audience more at ease and relaxed. And if they are at ease and relaxed, you’ll become more that way too and you’ve created a positive spiral, making you deliver your talk better. Also, adds Phillips, “as our emotions work from the inside out and the outside in, it means that you can affect your own emotional state in a positive way by smiling on stage.” No need to fake it — just bring to mind a person, place or animal that you know automatically brings a Duchenne smile to your face.

When you slip up, don’t panic 

We’ve all had that moment: We practiced our speech until we could recite it in our sleep, but suddenly we can’t remember what comes next. The best way to recover, according to Phillips, is to act like you’re not panicking. “Avoid reacting on your fear,” he says. “Your body will want to tense up, reverse, hide in a corner, but all that just makes you feel less confident.” Instead, he suggests, “lean forward, open up your posture, breathe deep and slow, talk slowly, pause, and smile a Duchenne smile. All of those in combination will make you feel more comfortable.”

Practice — even when you’re not in front of a crowd

One of Phillips’ favorite mottos when it comes to body language is: “It’s a skill, not a talent.” He believes that anyone can become a great public speaker, even the most awkward and nervous of us. He says that a good first step is to simply become more tuned in to your everyday body language. Learn what gestures you tend to use to get your point across. Once you’ve gotten familiar with your existing body language vocabulary, you can start changing it and expanding it. “My most practical tip is to pick one to three skills and practice them every day until they become part of your natural way of communicating.”

Watch his TEDxZagreb talk now:

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Part of speech: noun
Origin: Arabic, 15th century

The lowest point in the fortunes of a person or organization.


The point on the celestial sphere directly below an observer.

Examples of Nadir in a sentence

“At the nadir of his sales career, he decided to try a new path and go back to school.”

“I couldn’t find the Ursa Major constellation, because it was positioned at my nadir.”

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Part of speech: adjective
Origin: Latin, early 17th century

Silly and pointless.


Lacking intelligence.

Examples of Fatuous in a sentence

“He thought the decorative pillows were fatuous, but they made his mom happy.”

“The teacher got frustrated by the fatuous questions that showed the students hadn’t been paying attention.”

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Random Acts of kindness

  1. Make a hot beverage for a friend/family
  2. Treat someone to a cup of their favorite coffee. Pick up recyclables, cash them in and do it all over again
  3. It’s hard to stay connected – reach out to an elderly person you know
  4. Hold the door open for someone
  5. Offer to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor, especially in extreme weather
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Random phrases of the day

  1. Eat My HatMeaning: Having confidence in a specific outcome; being almost sure about something.
  2. When the Rubber Hits the RoadMeaning: When something is about to begin, get serious, or put to the test.
  3. Heads UpMeaning: Used as an advanced warning. To become keenly aware.
  4. Close But No CigarMeaning: Coming close to a successful outcome only to fall short at the end.
  5. Jaws of LifeMeaning: Usually this references a tool used by rescuers when they pry or cut open a car to save the occupant.
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Writing. Prompts

  • Fire FliesWrite about a secluded stream with lots of wildlife.
  • Red FacedWrite about an embarrassing moment.
  • Shopping AddictWhat happens to someone who can’t stop shopping?
  • Lost LetterA letter written many years ago unexpectedly arrives.
  • Favorite NumberHow does a favorite number affect a person during their life?
  • Frame ItWrite about a painting that speaks to you.
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Part of speech: adjective
Origin: Latin, late 16th century

(of a year) having the extra day (29 February) of a leap year.


Anything related to the extra day of a leap year.

Examples of Bissextile in a sentence

“Since he was born in a bissextile year, his mother joked that he got his driver’s license when he was 4 years old.”

“Embrace the bissextile day every four years, and do something fun and out of the ordinary.”

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Did you know…

Did you know…

… that today, besides being a leap day, is MASH Ending Day? On this day in 1983, the final episode of MAS*H aired. It was the most watched television program in history. Trivia fans: Many of the stories in the early seasons were based on real-life tales told by real MASH surgeons who were interviewed by the production team.


Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

— Alan Alda

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Did you know…

Did you know…

… that today is the birthday of Westminster Abbey? Westminster Abbey, one of the most famous churches and burial grounds in the world, opened in 1066. A treasure house of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles and other artifacts, Westminster Abbey is also the place where some of the most significant people in the nation’s history are buried or commemorated.


Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.”

— Ralph Marston

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Part of speech: adjective
Origin: Greek, early 19th century

Expressed in or of the nature of short, pithy maxims or aphorisms.


Enigmatic; ambiguous.

Examples of Gnomic in a sentence

“He seemed incapable of original thought, only speaking in gnomic riddles.”

“The campaign speech excited the voters but remained gnomic in substance.”

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Quotes of the Week


“They can conquer who believe they can.”

via Today’s Quote https://ift.tt/2w225W1 February 25, 2020 at 11:42AM
via RSS Feed https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/virgil-quotes

Edmund Burke

“You can never plan the future by the past.”

via Today’s Quote https://ift.tt/2uBMvQq February 28, 2020 at 12:02PM
via RSS Feed https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/edmund-burke-quotes

Ethel Barrymore

“You grow up the day you have the first real laugh at yourself.”

via Today’s Quote https://ift.tt/32zPMfA February 29, 2020 at 12:02PM
via RSS Feed https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/ethel-barrymore-quotes

Lewis Carroll

“Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.”

via Today’s Quote https://ift.tt/2I8oX9a March 01, 2020 at 12:02PM
via RSS Feed https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/lewis-carroll-quotes

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Fun Month March – Via Scatter.com Newsletter

Fun Days, Events, and Festivals

  1. International Yoga Festival – 1st-7th March
  2. National Grammar Day – 4th March
  3. Braj Holi Mahotsav – 5th-6th March
  4. Holi – 9th/10th March
  5. Gangaur (Rajasthan) – 10th-27th March
  6. World Sleep Day – 15th March
  7. World Sparrow Day – 20th March
  8. Spring Equinox – 21st March
  9. Bhagat Singh Shaheed Diwas – 23rd March
  10. Ugadi/Gudi Padwa – 25th March
  11. World Theater Day – 27th March
  12. Board Exams – throughout March
  13. Financial Year-End – 31st March

Content Marketing Ideas:

Listicle Idea: X Times celebrities brought their fitness A-game through yoga!

Infographic: What are the most commonly-made grammatical errors?

Video: The process that theater actors use to get into character

Podcast: Psychologists explain why sleeping healthy leads to better mental health


  1. World Athletics Indoor Championship: 13th – 15th March
  2. ICC World T20 (Women): 21st Feb – 8th March

Content Marketing Ideas:

Listicle idea: Reasons why indoor tracks are better than outdoor ones

Infographic idea: Women’s cricket stars that have risen over the years

Video idea: How cricket pitches are made

Podcast: How do sports inculcate discipline in children?



  1. Justin Bieber – 1st March 
  2. Mary Kom – 1st March 
  3. Shahid Afridi – 1st March 
  4. Dr Seuss – 2nd March 
  5. Jon Bon Jovi – 2nd March 
  6. Chris Martin – 2nd March 
  7. Daniel Craig – 2nd March 
  8. Tiger Shroff – 2nd March 
  9. Camila Cabello – 3rd March 
  10. Alexander Graham Bell – 3rd March 
  11. Shankar Mahadevan – 3rd March 
  12. Anupam Kher – 7th March 
  13. Zakir Hussain – 9th March 
  14. Carrie Underwood – 10th March 
  15. Chuck Norris – 10th March 
  16. Olivia Wilde – 10th March 
  17. Shreya Ghoshal – 12th March 
  18. Atif Aslam – 12th March 
  19. Albert Einstein – 14th March 
  20. Aamir Khan – 14th March 
  21. Will.i.am – 15th March 
  22. Eva Longoria – 15th March 
  23. Alia Bhatt – 14th March 
  24. Yo Yo Honey Singh – 15th March 
  25. Abhay Deol – 15th March 
  26. Alexander McQueen – 17th March 
  27. Kalpana Chawla – 17th March 
  28. Saina Nehwal – 17th March 
  29. Adam Levine – 18th March 
  30. Shashi Kapoor – 18th March 
  31. Ronaldinho – 21st March 
  32. Rani Mukherji – 21st March 
  33. Shobana – 21st March 
  34. Resse Witherspoon – 22nd March 
  35. Kangana Ranaut – 23rd March 
  36. Tommy Hilfiger – 24th March 
  37. Elton John – 25th March 
  38. Keira Knightley – 26th March 
  39. Mariah Carey – 27th March 
  40. Quentin Tarantino – 27th March 
  41. Lady Gaga – 28th March 
  42. Celine Dion – 30th March 
  43. Vincent van Gogh – 30th March 
  44. Johann Sebastian Bach – 31st March 

Content Marketing Ideas:

Listicle Idea: X Greatest slam-dunks in the history of basketball

Infographic idea: Highest grossing Tarantino films and how they compare to other Hollywood fare.

Video idea: Instances in which Kangana Ranaut waged her war against nepotism.

Podcast idea: Tracing Lady Gaga’s musical journey from her debut to now

Movie Releases

  1. Baaghi – 3 – 6th March
  2. Kaamyaab – 6th March
  3. Godzilla vs Kong – 13th March
  4. Gunjan Saxena – 13th March
  5. Chalaang – 13th March
  6. A Quiet Place: Part 2 – 20th March
  7. Angrezi Medium – 20th March
  8. Sooryavanshi – 24th March
  9. Mulan – 27th March

Content Marketing Ideas:

Listicle idea: X Fictional creatures that redefined the genre of terror

Infographic idea: Best remakes of old movies you should watch

Video idea: X Times Disney princesses were the role models that society needed

Podcast idea: Why sequels tend to be less successful than the original