Types of Non-Verbal Communication and its impacts on public speaking

Non-verbal communciation graphic
Types of Non-Verbal Communication Chart: By Bridget Higton

Non-verbal communication is communicating without words and instead can consist of using posture, gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, and modulating the tone any pitch of the voice. Other factors involved in non-verbal communication are personal appearance and presentation, blinking and the use of time. Use of time increases the tempo to build excitement in a point, and a silent pause may really let it sink in, and let the audience contemplate the point.  

‘Non-verbal communication is often used to express a thought or thoughts and make your message more appealing and interesting to the person you are speaking (Phutela 2015)’. Sometimes our non-verbal communication and verbal communication do not match, leaving the audience with mixed messages, and having to decide whether to believe what you are saying or what your body language is communicating. In most cases an audience will choose body language, because it is natural and portrays the true feelings and intentions of the speaker. Body language is the most important form of non-verbal communication because of the fact that it is something humans do without thinking about it; it happens unconsciously.

Image: non-verbal communication gestures and body language – Google Images

When a public speaker’s non-verbal communication skills are effective in adjoining the non-verbal communication message with the verbally communicated message within a speech, it increases the audiences trust and rapport. If a public speaker’s non-verbal communication is lacking, then it generates tension and confusion for the audience. Non-verbal communication can be both visual and non-visual; as shown in the table.

Table non verbal communication
The visual and non-visual form of non-verbal communication: By Bridget Higton

These non-verbal communication forms are critical to public speaking success because without them the audience will feel detached from what you are saying. ‘Oral presentations consist of three main components: words spoken, tone of voice and non-verbal communication’, (Cenere et al. 2015). When you combine these components you get a speech that connects with the audience it is presented to. Overall non-verbal communication is very important to public speaking due to the fact that, as humans, we trust non-verbal communication over verbal and speech. 


Cenere, P, Gill, R, Lawson, C and Lewis, M 2016, ‘Communication skills for business professionals’, Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne.

Phutela, D 2015, the importance of non-verbal communication’, IUP Journal of Soft Skills, 9, no. 4, pp. 43-49.

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