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What To Do With Your Hands When Giving A Speech

November 24, 2017

Whether you are making a speech at a conference, giving a presentation or speaking at a party the question always arises what to with your hands whilst you are talking!

Talking Hands

Some people say don’t use your hands too much so people can focus on your words, keep them still and hold onto a podium or table, but gripping too tightly shows a sign of nerves, hiding your hands behind your back can look intimidating, holding your hands tightly clasped in front of you can draw attention to the wrong places, and if  holding a pen or paper you may start to fidget by clicking the pen and this can be distracting to the listener.

Research shows that’s it’s effective for a presenters hands to do plenty of talking, and can increase the value of your message by 60% they just have to be saying the right thing!

When charismatic people use the correct hand gestures audiences will be happy, as they get two explanations in one! So it is important that your words and actions work on the same page, avoid giving out mixed messages which can be very confusing and eventually lead to loosing your audiences attention and they could walk out! But do not dismay there is a way to come back from this, open your hands out to the the audience, ask if there are any questions they would like to ask, get your audience interacting with you possibly invite someone up to the stage, shake their hands, make your audience an active part of the presentation.

For most of us speaking in public can be daunting. It is a gifted person who can stand up and speak with confidence and ability, so having to think about what your hands are doing can add another pressure. To minimise stress read my tips on what to do with your hands whilst you are talking, practice a couple of times either in front of someone, or film yourself on your phone and watch it back, so that by the time you stand up and speak it will come naturally to you.

Think of hand gestures as the bold print or highlighter to what you are saying.

1. Keep Your Hands In The Box
Although its good to always think outside of the box, hands should stay inside of the box, the area from your shoulder to the top part of your hips. Going too far or wide out of this zone can be distracting, try not to repeat the same hand movements too many times, new movements as with new words keeps the conversation engaging.


Holding your hand outstretched high up in the box shows “Its a pretty big deal” but lower down toward your waist that its just a small issue. Hold one hand out to the side when describing the benefits of an issue, and the other to describe the downsides.

When You Don’t Know What To Do Keep Your Hands By Your Side
This is your go to position if you don’t know what to do with your hands, try not to leave them there for too long.

Big & Small Issues
If you are talking about a small issue pinch your finger and thumb together, to reinforce an important topic have your hands opened wide in front of you.


Separating Subjects, This & That
When talking about two different subjects or opinions you can use your hands to symbolically represent them,  always put the same hand out each time, e.g your right hand for ‘we’ and your left hand for ‘they’ its a great way to define distance between two things, and people often are looking at their phones or look away whilst listening when they look back up again they can see at a glance what you are referring to.

Talking In Numbers
If talking in numbers up to five show these with your hand, it helps us believe the word, a bit like a non-verbal underliner.

Fist Shaking
This shows you are determined, but use it with care and with a soft voice otherwise it can come off as anger.

Hand On Heart
This shows you are sincere about what you are saying.

Ive got my stuff together
A steeple with your fingertips is seen as a wise gesture.

Hands making a speech 2

Open Palms To Build Trust
Showing open palms means I’ve got nothing to hide and installs trust. So from the handshake to the hands up movements make sure your hands are facing you audience palms open.

Hands makinga speech 3

Come Together
When you bring both of your hands together, it is a great way of showing two forces coming together and thinking as one, folding your hands together shows completeness.

Hands making aspeech 1

This is the most powerful, when speaking to a group or team opening your arms as if you are about to wrap them in a hug, gives a feeling of welcoming them into your inner circle. Its  a lovely come together gesture when used correctly.

Always end your speech by throwing questions out to the audience, let them give their opinions on the topic, hand on chin has a number of meanings, but it can show that you are listening and thinking about what that person is saying.

Hand on chin hand gesture

Groom Your Hands The Night Before
To keep your hand gestures fluid and natural, massage your hands the night before with SEAMS. If your hands are dry they will appear stiff and uncomfortable, moisturised hands increase elasticity in the skin, a massage the night before you go to sleep with SEAMS Hand Cream will ensure you wake up with soft hands.

If you are wearing nail varnish make sure its not chipped, and take the colour with you in your bag in case they get chipped on the way. Pick your nail colour carefully nothing too bright to take away attention from your face. If you don’t wear nail polish shine your nails with a buffer.

Moisturise with SEAMS again in the morning. People often want to shake your hand after the speech and there is nothing worse than shaking a dry hand.

Before you make your speech, with your thumb press the pressure point between the thumb and forefinger this will help release any tension.

Remember its not just about what you are saying, its your actions that will make the difference.

All eyes will be on you whilst you are talking just saying..!

Karen J.

Hands Hand Cream



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Be Kind – Kindness Matters
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