Do you struggle to know what to do with your hands while public speaking?
You are not alone.
Often we feel like our hands don’t belong to us and we shouldn’t move them at all. This is not a good idea.
Research by Vanessa Van Edwards has revealed that speeches are more effective with hand movements and gestures. This is because audiences are given both auditory and visual messages helping to keep them engaged.
So hands should do plenty of ‘talking’ – they just need to say the right thing…
Invite the audience in
Having your arms open and your palms facing outwards makes the audience feel like you are being open and honest.
It is easier to build an audience’s trust in this position, making it more likely they will follow your lead.
Use gestures to emphasise key points
If you are saying numbers under 5, use your fingers to show the number. If you are describing feeling excited, your hands should reflect this with fingers open and animated. If you felt angry you could emphasise this by clenching your fists.
This helps to ‘underline’ the point you are making.
Make it personal
When appropriate, it helps to include your own opinions or stories in your speech.
This gives the audience the chance to relate to you as a person and is likely to hold their interest more.
Put your hand on your chest to indicate when the speech is about your own experiences or feelings.
These are just a few ideas and it’s up to you to use them and make them your own. Keep practising your speech in front of the mirror to find what works for you.
Actors rehearse movements with their lines before they perform. After lots of practise their movements look natural. Aim to see your speech as a performance and practise it with gestures. It may feel forced at first but the more you practice, the more natural it will feel.