Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Hands

What do I do with my hands???

February 28, 2013 | By | No Comments

Okay, hold them up and take a good look. What have you got? If you’re lucky enough to have a complete pair, what impression do they give? Are they clean, free from the yellow tinge of nicotine on your ‘holding’ fingers or do they look like you have been rummaging through a wheelie bin?

People notice your hands. Of course I am not saying that you all need to rush out and get a pre-interview manicure. But if you’re not a boxer, an equestrian or a clown and are not going to be ‘gloved up’ it’s worth the trouble to ask yourself what your hands say about you.
When speaking in front of others, People often say to me “I don’t know what to do with my hands” Or “I hold onto the plectrum so I don’t talk too much with my hands”. Both of these statements I question.  Do you have trouble with your hands when you not doing public speaking?  Probably not.
The aim is to use your hands in a natural way that helps to get your message across (In the same way we do this in our everyday conversations) The more you concentrate on what to do with your hands the more you will worry and the more unnatural they can begin to feel.
You do need to be self-aware with what your hands are saying to people, (without giving yourself a hard time) because unnatural and wooden hand movements can undermine your entire speech. For example, letting them loll lifelessly by your sides says you’ve no conviction behind your words is not going to help get your message across. It also tells your audience you are uncomfortable in this setting and a novice at speech giving. You want your audience to believe in you, to relax and therefore be able to absorb what you’re saying without distraction.
On the flip side, punching the air like an Evangelist every time you utter a sentence will make you seem fake and cringe-worthy. People will be embarrassed for you and take your well- honed speech with a pinch of salt, however worthy it might be.
Finger pointing is seen as impolite and aggressive. Bill Clinton was told about pointing his finger too much, making everything seem aggressive, it was a habit he found hard to break, so his public speaking consultant told him to put his thumb over his finger, this took the aggressiveness away. He has told that if you want to gesture to your audience then use a sweep of your entire hand. Eventually through small steps Clinton stopped pointing altogether and became an excellent public speaker.
There is a term called Steepling, when a person’s palms face each other, with just the fingertips touching (Tony Blair is a great example of this in his early days). It’s known as a power move which portrays confidence and self-assuredness. Too much of it can be seen as arrogant so if you feel comfortable using it, be aware (Tony Blair is a great example of this in his later days).
If during a speech you put your hands on your heart, what you’re saying is ‘believe me, I mean it sincerely’, whether you do or not! If you put your hands in your pocket or behind your back, don’t be surprised if people wonder what you’re hiding. Having your hands in full view implies a desire to seen as open and honest.
If there are certain elements of your speech which you really want to have emphasis, use a palm-upwards, push-out of the hands, gesture. Open-handed gestures again imply transparency and a wish to be seen as authentic.
I can’t imagine anyone choosing to cross their arms during a speech but if it isn’t obvious, it’s a huge no-no. It spews negatives. ‘I’m bored’ ‘I’m defensive’ ‘I am hiding something’. Your hands can draw people in, they can humanise you. Even if the nature of your speech is very formal, its credibility and believability is quite literally, in your hands.

For more information about public speaking and presentation skills go to www.surespeech.co.uk