Advertising
Advertising

How to Use Hand Gestures in a Presentation

How to Use Hand Gestures in a Presentation

In my line of work, I give presentations to my team members quite often. As I give my presentations, I am always very aware of my audience and their interest level. If they look bored, then I need to adjust myself accordingly and win back their attention.

I want to keep them engaged and interested in what I’m saying, and I find that hand gestures are a powerful way to raise excitement and keep my audience’s attention. Effective gestures help to build trust, and convey my ideas more clearly.

Communication is 93% non-verbal and only 7% verbal, while all the rest is expressed through body language. Gesturing actually makes people pay closer attention to the acoustics of speech. When they see a gesture, they expect that there is dialogue to go along with it.

The usage of gestures along with speech varies depending on culture. Many people ask me if I’m a little bit Italian because I “talk with my hands.” The Italian language itself is very expressive and poetic, and the hand gestures make it even more so. The more emphasis that we put on our speech, the more expressive our gestures become.

Advertising

So while you are rehearsing your speech, be sure to rehearse your hand gestures as well. Don’t link your hands behind your back as you speak, it will make you seem rigid and your audience will lose interest.

Here are some helpful hand gestures to keep your audience engaged.

Palms Up Instead of Down.

    Photo credit

    Advertising

    Keeping your palms up and open indicates that you are being open and honest. This will invite your audience in, and make them feel comfortable. By keeping your palms down, without even realizing it, your tone is slightly threatening and directs the audience to be submissive.

    Research finds that lecturers who mainly used the palm up gesture received 84% positive feedback while those who used the palm down gesture only received 52% of positive feedback when they do the exactly the same presentation.[1]

    Hand “steepling” instead of hand “wringing”.

      Hand steepling was a common practice used by Steve Jobs during his presentations to convey a message of confidence and wisdom. Notice how he never used hand “wringing” because it comes across as fidgety and nervous behavior. Hand steepling can be used effectively during intermediate moments, such as when you are thinking or switching topics.

      Advertising

      Use the “OK” gesture instead of pointing

      Squeeze your index finger against your thumb to make the “OK” gesture. Got it? This motion is authoritative, but not aggressive as pointing would be.

        We took a survey from an audience on which hand gesture they prefer. The audience reported that the individual who used the “OK” signal came across as thoughtful, goal-oriented, and focused. Whereas the individual who used pointing gestures came across to the audience as aggressive, belligerent, and rude. This put off the audience, and in response they paid less attention to the speech.

        Don’t put your hands on your hips, or joined behind your back

        How do you think you look with your hands on your hips? A bit like a parent scolding a child? That’s how it appears to your audience. This stance makes you seem less professional, and your audience will feel that you are trying to dictate them instead of guide them.

        Advertising

        As I’d previously mentioned, putting your hands behind your back makes you look awkward and serious. Your hands are your tools! Use them! Communicate your message more effectively to show specific numbers with your fingers, or length with your hands. Your audience will be engaged and pay closer attention to your point.

        Use “side-palm” to persuade your audience

          Photo credit

          Hold your hand out in handshake position. This gesture is what is known as “side-palm.” You are literally reaching out to your audience, and it will make them want to meet you half way. Since you have their undivided attention, it will be much easier to persuade them.

          Practice these helpful gestures to engage your audience and politely enforce your authority. Having a good speech just isn’t enough. With these gestures, you will effectively get your point across without turning off your audience.

          Reference

          More by this author

          Brian Lee

          Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

          How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples) How to Answer Behavioral Based Interview Questions Smartly 7 Best Project Management Apps to Boost Productivity 100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About

          Trending in Productivity

          1 How To Break the Procrastination Cycle 2 Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing) 3 5 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination and Feeling Overwhelmed 4 Why You Procrastinate: 7 Possible Reasons You Can’t Get Anything Done 5 Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on March 31, 2020

          How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

          How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

          How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

          There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

          The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

          For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

          1. Feeling Eager and Energized

          This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

          2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

          The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

          Advertising

          3. Still No Action

          More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

          4. Flicker of Hope Left

          You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

          5. Fading Quickly

          Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

          6. Vow to Yourself

          Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

          Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

          Advertising

          How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

          Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

          To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

          1. Feeling Eager and Energized

          This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

          2. Plan

          Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

          3. Resistance

          Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

          Advertising

          What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

          4. Confront Those Feelings

          Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

          Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

          5. Put Results Before Comfort

          You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

          6. Repeat

          Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

          Advertising

          Final Thoughts

          Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

          If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

          Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

          Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

          Read Next