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Cambridge public speaker coach on how lock-knee cascades into powerlessness…

Locking your knees during a presentation can be calamitous, says coach Julia Caddick, whose talk in the city on February 1 is titled ‘Presenter Skills for STEM Professionals’.

Julia, who specialises in public speaking, suggests that knee-locking triggers a cascade of effects which can result in a sense of powerlessness in front of the audience.

Networking audience
Networking audience

“Why is locking your knees a problem?” she asks. “Because when we lock our knees, we also lock or tense a series of other muscles above it, which impedes our ability to breathe quietly, freely and easily. This can have a knock-on effect on our nerves.”

The follow-on to this lock-on is the speaker rocking back and forth and that’s when it all unravels, says Julia, whose talk will take place at St Andrew’s Hall.

“When we lock our knees, we have a tendency to stick our pelvis slightly forward and then it’s natural to lean or ‘rock’ the top of the body backwards from that position.

“This is a common stance in very young children – it sometimes looks like they’re standing with their tummies pushed out – but, as adults, we need to be careful of it otherwise it can take us back to playground days, and the feelings of powerlessness we may have experienced at the time: we disempower ourselves whilst giving a visual reminder of a child’s stance to our audience – not the image we were going for!”

Julia Caddick
Julia Caddick

She concludes: “Stand strong with your weight evenly distributed between both your feet at the same time and keep your knees ‘loose’. You need a balanced stance to present at your best.”

Standing with one foot ahead of the other at an angle is also not a good look, adds Julia.

”It looks like a good balanced position, but it can look like you’re getting ready to run off stage at the earliest possible moment – it quite literally ‘puts you on the back foot’.

“This might well be what you’re feeling inside at the start of your presentation, but if you don’t show it in your body, you can convince your mind it’s not what you feel. What should you do instead? Stand with your feet hip width apart – it gives you a chance to stay balanced, present, and strong.”

Details of Julia’s talk can be found here.

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