Monday, February 04, 2008

what should I do with my hands?

I often ask participants in my presentation or speaker trainings where they think their hands belong when they are not gesturing. Most people immobilize their hands, gripping them together in front or in back of their torsos or grabbing both sides of the lectern. Your hands will best serve you during a speech or presentation if they're available for your use at a moment's notice--and that means you should hold them at rest with your elbows bent, and fingers touching, but not gripping, those of the opposite hand. You can rest one hand on the other lightly, but don't grip.

This option helps you in two ways: Your hand and arm are now free to gesture up or down without having to travel a long way (distracting to you and your audience), and you're not immobilizing them.  On camera, you'll need to be gesturing near your face if your hands are to be seen. Holding them at your waist keeps them closer to the place they need to be.  Most important of all:  If you grip your hands or otherwise hold them still, you're more likely to make a verbal error.

Once you practice this, it will seem and look relaxed and natural, giving you the appearance of a calm, collected speaker. This technique also works for people with the opposite problem, those who gesture too much. Holding your hands at the ready can feel like a gesture and give your hands something to do other than flapping.

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