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International communication

Second Language English Audiences

How to engage them?

Body Language

Facial expressions are important in stimulating courage in others and motivating change (Coon & Mitterer, 2015). Our facial expressions can reveal moral judgement and willingness to support ethical responsibilities and professional values even in the presence of risk. When we focus on important issues with good intention, fear can be conquered.

Expressions of fear, anger, disgust, happiness, sadness and surprise are cross culturally the clearest to understand (Ekman, 1992). Cross cultural emotional awareness effects emotional intelligence in audience members through arousal and calming of mental processing. This is important in affecting behaviour, decisions and analysing social complexities.

Incompetence can be displayed with a mixture of fear, sadness, anger, shame and interest (Russel & Fernandez-Dois, 1997).

To convey enthusiasm, express positive facial animations that reveal emotions from personal experiences as they can indicate humility and integrity.

When your eyebrows are lifted slightly and the corners of your mouth are lifted up it reveals trustworthiness and openness (Freeman, Stolier, Ingretsen & Hehman, 2014).

A sincere smile communicates enthusiasm and helps the audience feel comfortable.

Hand motions are good to emphasise points; to call, reject or ask.

Avoid defensive gestures like folding of arms or holding your hands in from of your body.

Placing hands in pockets can indicate reservation to participate.

Researchers show that raised hands with palms up showing joy or thanksgiving is perceived 84% more enjoyable. Presentations where the presenter's finger pointed at the audience resulted in some leaving the room and only 28% positive responses (A. Pease & B. Pease, 2006).

Shorter gazes at the audience increase autonomic nervous system reactions while longer gazes build emotional stability and attentiveness with participants (Helminen, Kaasinen & Hietanen, 2011).



Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. (2010). Introduction to psychology: Gateways to mind and behaviour with concept maps. Belmont: Wadsworth.

Ekman P. (1991). Are there basic emotions? Psychology Review, 99(3). Retrieved from

Freeman, J., Stolier, R., Ingbretsen, Z., & Hehman, E. (2014). Amygdala responsively to high-level social information from unseen faces. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(32), 10573-10581. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5063-13.2014

Helminen, T., Kaasinen, S., & Hietanen, J. (2011). Eye contact and arousal: the effects of stimulus duration. Biological Psychology, 88(1), 124-30. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2011.07.002.

Pease, A., & Pease, B. (2006). The definitive book of body language. New York: Bantam Books.

Russel, J., Bachorowski, J., & Fernandez-Dols, J. (2003). Facial and vocal expressions of emotion. Annual Review of Psychology, 54. Retrieved from


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