Teachers have one of the hardest jobs in the world. Not only do they have to be informative, they have to be inspiring, leaders and awesome public speakers!

Teachers have to be public speakers, leaders and entertainers all at once.

I have partnered up with my friend Breanne Dyck of My Name Is Breanne to give teachers and trainers some body language tools they can add to their tool belt. Check out the video we made for some tips for those who teach online and offline:

Whether you teach online or stand in front of a classroom here are 5 tips you can use while you teach:

Nonverbal Tricks for Teachers

1. Showing Your Hands:

Our hands are our trust indicators. This means that when other people can’t see our hands, they have trouble trusting us. Whenever you are teaching–in front of a classroom or on camera you always want to have your hands visible. Keep them out of your pockets, don’t put them behind your back or under a desk and on camera be sure to get your whole body in the shot.

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2. Winner Body Language:

Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that when athletes win a race, the more expansive their body language and when athletes lose a race, the more defeated their body language. Want to look like a winner? Roll your shoulders back, firmly plant your feet, open your chest and keep your head up. The more confident your body looks, the more confident you will be perceived as. This is called high body power–taking up space with your body. When teaching, keep your arms loose, roll your shoulders back and keep your head up. This will help you claim the room and own your material.

Another interesting study at Harvard Business School had candidates do mock-interviews. The researchers had participants assume high body power before they walked into the room. Those who power posed were rated as more confident, intelligent and skilled. Most importantly, those candidates FELT MORE POWERFUL! So before you film a course or walk into a classroom do a little power posing. Here is a video on How to Look (and Feel) Confident:

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3. Nonverbal Hooks:

Typically there is very low retention rates on verbal material. You need to hook the brain into remembering your content with nonverbal and verbal explanations. Try to think of ways you can explain your concepts using your hands, your voice or your body. Check out the video above for some examples!

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4. Expressiveness:

Professor Stephen Ceci tested how much body language helped his student evaluations in a clever study. He scripted one of his classes so the verbal content was exactly the same. In one class he used his typical body language, in the other he used a few nonverbal tricks including nonverbal expressiveness. This means he varied his voice tone, used a wide variety of facial gestures to emphasize his points and moved his hands while teaching. In the expressive nonverbal class, he got higher ratings from students in every single area–including textbook quality! This shows us that being expressive nonverbally captivates our students and helps them remember us and the material more favorably.

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5. The learning doesn’t stop here…

Check out some of Breanne’s awesome resources for teachers:

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

13 replies on “Body Language for Teachers: 5 Tips”

  1. Azad

    Wow! This came at a time that I needed it the most. Thank you so much. I am currently doing a paper on “Traumatized Refugee Children and Language Learning” and I am going to include some recommendations for teachers on how to better deal with children with PTSD. Can you please provide me with some literature on this?
    Thanks a lot!

  2. Lauren Freeman

    I didn’t realize how big of a difference learning from online materials was from in a classroom! This semester, I have the same professor for two classes, except one is in person and one is online. In person, she varies her voice, walks around, uses her hands, etc. But online, the video is shot from her chest to just above her head – no nonverbal gestures or expressiveness, no showing of the hands, and no voice variation! The difference between how well I learn and how much I like her classes is noticeably different, I wish she had known of these body language tips so she could apply them to her online classes!

  3. Liam Hayes

    Good stuff! I definitely agree that teachers have a hard job. I’m sure many teachers could find this article to be very useful. My favorite tip is explaining stuff using your hands. They could also draw on the board, I think.

  4. Nikki Thornton

    Body language is important but i find that tone and pace of voice has a big impact also on how engaged i am in learning! Great stuff crom Breanna!

  5. Robby Smith

    This article is true to teaching in general. I love the non verbal hook! Creating a visual with the hands with a visual aid will definitely help people trust you as a teacher and will help them remember what was said 🙂

  6. Ciaran Sloan

    I’m learning about teaching, and I’m really enjoying it! I’m teaching guitar to friends and family members so my hands are usually preoccupied holding or playing the guitar so I must remember these tips. Thanks for another great video, Vanessa. I just downloaded Breanne’s Perfect Participant quick start guide and it was very helpful. Thanks Breanne x and thanks again Vanessa x

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