Presentation body language: Hands and open posture


by Peter Watts

There are three things your hands should avoid touching during a presentation; your chest, your hips, and each other!

When we feel insecure, we use defensive body postures. Our hands might clutch before us, interlocked fingers flexing in angst, or alternately they might find a convenient object and start to fidget compulsively with it. All such gestures are unconscious and it’s only when we see ourselves on video that we discover what distracting gestures our hands get up to while we are speaking!

The optimal posture for presenters is to keep the upper body “open”; free from defensive body postures. This leaves the question of what to do with those flapping, fidgeting hands, and is why many presenters use props to anchor their hands, the two most popular being pens and notes:

Pens

Hold a pen with it’s right end in your right hand, and it’s left end in your left. Your hands are now occupied, while being physically prevented from meeting by the pen between them. If you need to gesture to something on the slide, the pen becomes a convenient pointer.

Make sure the pen you use isn’t the type with a clicker to extend and retract the nib, or you might subconsciously click your way through the presentation instead!

Notes

As with the pen, notes can also be an anchor. Hold them by their two bottom corners and, once again, you are securely in the open body position. If you want to gesture or point then you can do so, before returning your hand to it’s note-holding position.

Carry a minimum of ten sheets even if your notes only cover the top page. Ten pages have a rigidity that a single page does not. If you have the slightest hand-tremble, a single page will amplify it, whereas ten pages will absorb and mask it.

Over time you will become used to working in the open posture and can free your hands  to use as tools for adding emphasis and style. Initially though, it can feel more comfortable, as many presenters do, to use well chosen props to keep that posture open.

Comments

  1. I have found your article of particular interest. Do you have any advice about acquiring a natural smile and looking congenial and relaxed whilst imparting potentially terrible news?

    I am keen to receive advice before the end of October if possible.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Blog advises that hands avoid three areas when speaking: your chest, your hips, and each other (Source).  Hands are important, but your shoulders are, too.  Stand up straight with your head held high. [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,437 other followers

%d bloggers like this: