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  • Marina & Jennifer

5 Helpful Hand Tips When Public Speaking

Although useful when holding items, eating, and giving high fives, what on Earth do you do with your hands when you are public speaking? It just happens to be one of those awkward feelings you experience when public speaking! Suddenly, it dawns on you, how do I use these big, dangling things? If you want to be an effective public speaker, use your hands with purpose! You want your hands to act as a highlighter for what you are saying. Here are 5 tips to try out during your next public speaking event:

1. Take your hands out of your pocket! Keep your hands visible and moving. It shows you are comfortable and confident and allows you to paint a picture with your hands so that your message is enhanced. For example, if you are trying to accentuate a certain number, gesture that number with your hands. This will also help decrease tension in the body and therefore increase the perception of ease with your presentation.

2. Keep your palms up. This alludes trust from the audience showing that you have nothing to hide. Our instinct tells us our safety could be in jeopardy when our palms are not shown. Remember making your audience feel comfortable will only make you their ally and they will better retain the information you present.

Let go of the need to want to hold something. Literally, let it go! Objects that you hold in your hands can be visually distracting. We tend to fidget with objects we are holding without being aware we are doing this. When this occurs, it takes the audience’s attention away from you. Think about a time you watched a speaker who was holding a pen while they were talking and that pen became the star of the show for you. Don’t let that happen to you! You worked harder than that pen! Also, when you are anxious, you might tighten your hold on the object, showing nervousness, and who knows, maybe even break that object. Awkward!

3. Use your hands like a fancy highlighter. We want them to emphasize the description in your speech when telling key points. For example, use a gesture when you are using words such as big, small, top, bottom, far, near, right, and left. People do not have the neurological capacity to remember every piece of information, so use your hands to highlight important parts! It will make what you have to say more memorable.

4. Don’t point the finger! Refrain from pointing at specific audience members. This can be perceived as threatening or aggressive and maybe offensive as well. Remember, most audience members do not like to be put on the spot! They did not sign up to be speaking at the event you are at. The spotlight needs to be shining on you.

5. Don’t overdo it! Use your hands when it feels natural and appropriate. Start with a few movements and work your way up with practice and comfort. You do not want to look like a bird flapping away. It is overkill and your listeners will notice.


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