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Body language

Body language is the communication of feelings, emotions, attitudes and thoughts through body movements, gestures, posture and position. It describes the non-verbal signals we make.

In a presentation, examples of body language include:

  • Eye contact with the audience (or lack of it)
  • Body posture and movements
  • Hand and arm movements (gestures)

Body language, gestures and eye contact are effective ways to engage your audience. Your awareness and ability to manage your body language is an important factor in a successful business presentation.

Your task

Body language can be universal or culture-specific. For example, many cultures gesture with their arms when speaking, but in Japan, this can be seen as impolite (Elkins and Nudelman 2015).

Share an example of a gesture that’s specific to your own culture but avoid anything that’s likely to cause offence.


Elkins, K., and Nudelman, M. (2015) ‘The shocking differences in basic body language around the world’. Business Insider [online] 17 March. available from https://www.businessinsider.com/body-language-around-the-world-2015-3 [10 July 2019]

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This article is from the free online course:

What Makes an Effective Presentation?

Coventry University