Success is in Your Hands

Looks like our summary of Gesturing ‘Worst Practices’ last month was a big hit, except for those people who though I was talking about them. As promised, this month we do a deep dive on Gesturing Best Practices that you can add to your Presenter Tool Kits to add dynamic Sizzle to your Gestures. So, hang on – it will be a fast ride.

You’ll recall that what you do with your hands says a lot about your confidence and credibility on the platform. Said another way – Success is in Your Hands.

  • 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. And don’t keep your hands where you don’t want people to look.
  • 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.

New, Different or Better

That all said, here are 10 effective techniques to project positive physical energy through your gestures and make them Sizzle:

  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 interesting, but a little goes a long way.
  5. If you are 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 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. 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 are – 10 simple Best Practices to make sure success will be in your hands and project the appearance of confidence, credibility and competence to your audience … and lots of Sizzle!