Body language warmups: how to prime your body to project confidence in public speaking and media interviews

communication media training public speaking soft skills
Body language warm-ups

Most people are well aware of the importance of body language in public speaking and media interviews, but in practice it is challenging and often counter-productive to try actively to hold ourselves in a way that our bodies don’t find natural. Experienced actors know how to use their bodies to send signals of confidence and presence, but most of us don’t have a lifetime of experience managing the subtleties of posture and gesture. Making a conscious effort to hold ourselves in a particular way consumes precious attention, can make us feel self-conscious, and at worst can end up looking affected and inauthentic.

In public speaking and media training at ISOC we go about things a different way: we use the concept of physical priming. Forget about power poses and rehearsed gestures. Almost everything that you can do in practice to improve your physical presence happens in advance. Just before you need to perform, follow a ritual of movement to warm up and prime your body, and then when the lights go up – forget about trying to control your body language, and instead trust your body to hold its space.

The following warm-up drills are tried and tested ways to set yourself up to give your best physical performance in any speech, presentation or interview.

Victory Y

  1. Stand up straight with feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Raise both hands above your head in a Y position.
  3. Spread your fingers and reach as high and wide as you can, stretching your whole body from fingers to toes.
  4. Open your mouth and eyes as wide as you can (like an expression of shock / surprise / wonder)
  5. Hold for three slow breaths.

Seated spinal rotation

  1.  Sit up straight in a chair.
  2.  Cross your arms over your chest
  3.  Rest each hand on the opposite shoulder.
  4.  Rotate your upper body from side to side, turning from the waist.
  5.  Feel the stretch on both sides of your lower back. Inhale in the middle and exhale at each end of the movement.
  6.  Repeat three times.

Neck rotations

  1.  Gently turn your head from side to side (as if shaking your head for “no”). Try to look past your shoulder.
  2.  Feel the stretch on the outside of your neck.
  3.  Keep your head upright (do not roll it).
  4.  Repeat three times.

Posterior shoulder stretch

  1.  Hold one arm across your body.
  2.  Pull your elbow into your chest.
  3.  Feel the stretch in your shoulder.
  4.  Hold for three slow breaths.
  5.  Repeat on the other side.

High shoulder and neck stretch

  1.  Sit on one hand.
  2.  Tilt your head away to the other side and slightly forward, towards your opposite shoulder.
  3.  Feel the stretch in your neck and upper shoulder.
  4.  Hold for three slow breaths.
  5.  Change sides and repeat.

Anterior shoulder stretch

  1.  Stand up straight with shoulders relaxed and back.
  2.  Clasp your hands behind your lower back.
  3.  Lift your clasped hands with elbows straight and away from your body.
  4.  Stop at the point of discomfort.
  5.  Hold for five slow breaths.

Full back stretch

  1. Stand with feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Very slowly flop your upper body down as if trying to touch your toes.
  3. Relax and dangle your arms and head. Hold for three slow breaths.
  4. Deepen the stretch with each outbreath.
  5. Stand up very slowly, vertebra by vertebra, starting with the lower spine and ending with the head.

ISOC course links

This content relates to the following short courses at the International School of Communications, available live online and also face-to-face at our training centres in London and Dubai:

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.