Give Them a Hand

I hope you found the recent summary of Gesturing ‘Worst Practices’ an interesting and mildly amusing trip. And if too much of it sounded like you … we have an app for that. So, fasten your seat belts for a quick spin around Gesturing Best Practices and how to give your audience a hand.

You’ll recall that what you do with your hands says a lot about your confidence and credibility on the platform:

  • Since you can’t eliminate all the nervous energy Presentation Anxiety produces, channel it productively with strong and purposeful gestures.
  • Since the eyes of your audience are drawn to movement, let your hands send out the clear non-verbal message that you’re confident and competent.
  • Make sure your gestures add visual value and punch to your message and that everything you do appears to be on purpose and for a purpose.

10 Best Practices

That all said, add these effective techniques to harness physical energy through gestures to your Workplace Presentation Tool Kits:

1. Keep your hands in a ‘Neutral’ position most of the time – arms at your side, relaxed, with your hands open and fingers pointing downward. Unless you’re holding notes in one hand, this ‘Neutral’ position is where your hands are when you’re not gesturing.

2. Let your fingers be as motionless as possible without looking stiff or unnatural. When you feel the need to fidget, that’s time for a more productive gesture instead.

3. When you do gesture, bring your hands up well above your waist. The closer your hands are to your face, the better. This will keep attention on your eyes.

4. Use a non-predictable combination of one-hand and two-hand gestures for variety and emphasis. Avoid overdoing the same movement. Productive gestures are like the spice in chili. They make it memorable, but a little goes a long way.

5. If you’re holding notes, make sure they’re in your non-gesturing hand and that you don’t also gesture with the notes.

6. If you want to put your hands together, do so for a reason and don’t keep them together very long. If you’re holding notes, don’t hold them with both hands.

7. If you want to use a gesture to transition from point #1 to point #2, simply move your hand up or across to accent what you say. You don’t need to hold up two fingers.

8. It’s fine to put a hand in your pants or slacks pocket occasionally to project a more relaxed and casual non-verbal message. But, keep it still and remember that a little goes a long way here too. Really limit this if you need to hold notes to avoid the temptation to gesture with your note hand.

9. If you must stand behind a podium – and there are some good reasons to do so – make sure your gestures are shoulder height so the audience can see them.

10. Don’t hold on to the sides of the podium. When not gesturing, place your hand on the angled top surface. Leave your notes on the podium so you don’t need to hold them.

So there you go – 10 Best Practices to help you gesture on purpose and for a purpose and project the appearance of confidence, credibility and competence to your audience. So … go give your audience a hand!