What To Do With Your Hands When Speaking

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This is one of the classic challenges that people have with public speaking, or speaking in general: what do you do with your hands?

Your hands are a powerful communication tool if you can use them correctly. They help to highlight and emphasize your ideas.

Everyone who is trying to communicate with impact needs to use their hands for maximum effect.

Avoid extremes with your hands

Don’t be completely stiff and motionless (like a statue), but don’t gesticulate and wave your hands around crazily either.

Being completely still rarely looks natural.

Especially if you are trying to convince someone to take an action (give you a raise, buy your product, sign up for your service), being still and emotionless will make you less persuasive.

You want your enthusiasm and conviction to come through in your body movement.

On the other hand, don’t move too excessively either. It undermines the confident, dominant demeanor you want to be projecting.

If you want to stress something particularly important or make a very critical point, then increase the intensity of your hand gestures. But do it strategically for maximum impact.

Emphasize or call attention to something important

This is the most basic use of your hands. By making a gesture or motion with your hand as you say something, it sticks in the other person’s mind more.

This is also why it’s important to avoid excessive gestures. If your hands are constantly moving, then no particular point seems to stand out, and your hands lose their impact. (You also can look very nervous or unstable.)

Show quantity and numbers

If three clients have succeeded with your service this month, simply show the number three with your fingers as you say that. It is more powerful than just speaking that statistic alone.

You can also spread your hands wide to signify something big or important: “This is a really big potential sale!” And move them close together to indicate a small quantity: “We had a small challenge last week, but no big deal.”

Find a comfortable resting position for your hands

When not in use, it’s good to spread your hands slightly apart when sitting at a table. Taking up some space and placing them above the table gives you more presence than hiding them below the table or in your pockets.

When standing up, you can hold them together in front of your belly or leave them at your side. Regardless of the position, always keep your arms and body relaxed with good posture.

Justin Aquino