Hand it to Your Audience

In a recent LinkedIn Discussion Group, I responded to a question about gestures in presentations. Here’s a summary of some of the basic points I shared that often come up in my presentation skill workshops and executive coaching engagements.

  • Gestures are normal, natural and human. Authentic ones usually work well. But some gestures are ineffective and reduce the credibility and illusion of confidence presenters work so hard to project.
  • Gesturing too much or using repetitive gestures can become distractions for the audience.
  • Nervous gestures – rubbing hands together, gesturing with hands down at your sides, playing with the remote or pen – also send out a negative non-verbal message about confidence … or the lack thereof.
  • Putting both hands in your pockets rarely hide the nervous fidgets and often appear too casual.
  • Hands together in front in the ‘fig leaf’ stance don’t add any value either and direct the audience’s eyes to that part of your body – bad idea.
  • Hands behind your back remove the potential power of gestures and look subordinate to the audience – also a bad idea.
  • Gesturing while holding your notes can be very distracting and increases the chance of dropping them. This is especially important when using 3 x 5 note cards – really a bad idea.

So, when presenting, hand it to your audience with style and confidence.