Did you know that using hand gestures gets your audience to pay attention better and also increases their ability to retain what they are hearing? Your hands provide the punctuation for your mouth. So interesting and so the opposite of what most speakers think is okay.

Here are some hand gesture tips:

Rubbing your palms together indicates the expectation of something positive.

Hands clenched together (with interlocking fingers) can indicate frustration, so be careful with that!

Making a steeple with your hands, fingers lightly pressed against each other, can look like thoughtfulness … or it can be read as superiority, so be forewarned.

Holding up your hand with the thumb and index finger together, with the other fingers resting in the palm, is used for emphasis by politicians and others engaging in persuasion (but be careful not to rub the thumb and index finger together, as that begins to suggest money and not in a positive way!).

Hands clasped behind the back have an unfriendly authoritarian feel; they’re not unlike crossed arms in terms of unfriendliness and should probably be avoided.

Arms open, palms open, arms and hands gesturing upward and toward the audience are all positive and engaging.

Height matters when it comes to your moving parts; keep your arms and hands at chest level or below to avoid blocking your face or being overly distracting.

In any case, big thumbs up on talking with your hands!

**Oh, and as a note, thumbs up or down are very powerful; they have been since Roman times when thumbs up or down meant life or death to a gladiator! Just sayin’ …

Beth Levine

Beth Levine

Communications Coach at SmartMouth Communications
SmartMouth Founder and Principal Beth Noymer Levine is a Communications Coach who is emerging as one of the country’s leading voices on how to prepare and deliver speeches and presentations that actually work for both the audience and the speaker.
Beth Levine

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