What Do You Do With Those Pesky Hands?

"A good speech, like a woman’s skirt, should be long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest."

Lord Balfour

СтатьиBody language • What Do You Do With Those Pesky Hands?

What Do You Do With Those Pesky Hands?

Robert Graham

Robert Graham is the Principal of GrahamComm, LLC (www.grahamcomm.net), a consulting and training company that helps clients increase their sales and deliver outstanding presentations. He can be reached at 415-652-0763 or Robert@grahamcomm.net.

Source article: http://www.grahamcomm.net/articles_06.html

Source site: http://www.grahamcomm.net/

"You guys are gonna love this!" Dan said, almost out of breath. "I just went down to make an announcement at the managers' meeting. I started out talking to them like I usually do: hands in pockets, legs crossed, leaning up against the wall. Then I remembered what we had just talked about regarding the power of body language.

"So I straightened up, pulled my hands out of my pockets and walked toward the conference table where everyone was sitting. It changed everything. People stopped what they were doing, put their pens down and actually paid attention to me!"

It was just as we had discussed in our Presentation Skills workshop. The power of visual communication - or body language - has been known for years. In fact, a famous study done at UCLA showed that when verbal, vocal and visual communication were compared, it was the visual communication that was the most powerful. This isn't to say that what we are saying isn't important. What it does say is that we must pay attention to how we look when we speak.


Do this: Stand up wherever you are and plant your weight evenly on both feet. Be careful about standing on one leg or the other; subtle changes make a big difference here. With your knees flexed slightly (we don't want to cut off our circulation if we intend to remain standing), stand with good, confident posture with your hands hanging by your sides.

This is your "Ready Position." This is how you want to stand before you start speaking and return to over and over. It helps you to ground yourself and take physical inventory of your body.

If there is a lectern (podiums are the things you stand on), push it out of the way so you have no barriers between you and your audience.


Why bother moving?

  • Helps you connect with your listeners
  • Puts your nervous energy to work
  • Keeps your audience on their toes (i.e. awake)

There are two pitfalls when it comes to movement when speaking. The first is not doing it at all, though sometimes your setting isn't conducive to movement. The other is pacing like a caged tiger. The key is to move with purpose.

Start in the "Power Point," that spot in the front-center of the room where you feel most in control. Talk to a couple of people in your immediate area, focusing on each person for an entire thought. Now find someone on one side of the room, walk over in her direction, plant yourself and talk to her. Talk with a couple of others in the same vicinity and repeat until finished.


Now what do we do with those pesky hands? For some reason, the hands pose a particular problem for speakers. We put them in pockets, in front (the "fig leaf"), behind, crossed, on our hips, or we fidget with anything in their vicinity.

The rules for the hands are:

  • Use a variety of gestures to add to your message (careful about over-using any)
  • Avoid folding them or putting them on your hips (too closed or aggressive)
  • When not gesturing, drop them by your sides
  • If you put them in your pockets from time to time, take out the keys and change
  • Don't do things that are going to distract your listeners (fidgeting, playing with markers, knuckle-cracking…)
  • No obscene gestures

Remember that you only have one chance to make a first impression. Be aware of what you are doing with your body when you speak, practice the rules above and make sure you do a zipper-check.


The Greatest Speech I Never Delivered

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