What Should I Do With My Hands While Presenting?

by Janice Tomich

Don’t think about a pink elephant. 

The image of a pink elephant is now embedded in your mind and you can’t erase it…right?

When you’re talking with someone—or even giving a presentation like a keynote—your mind can play the same nasty trick when you think too hard about what to do with your hands.

The hand question is one that I’m most often asked.

And it’s a tough one to answer because how we use our hands (and arms) should come naturally. Yes, it’s easy for me to say because I come from French ancestry. We (and I) tend to let our hands fly.

For those of you who don’t come by this emotive way of speaking like I do, here are three tips to get you started. One caveat, though—don’t overthink it.

1) You can simply place your arms and hands at your side. But if you’re not feeling at ease you’ll look like a wooden stickman. By touching your thumb and middle finger together it will help you ‘fake’ looking more natural and relaxed.

women presenting with her arms and hands to her side, naturally

2) Or you can do a lawyer’s pose with your fingertips together. Resting your hands naturally with your fingertips coming together just at or below waist height gives you an easy launching pad for your hands.

Lawyer's Pose—resting your hands naturally with the fingertips together while presenting
3) You can also hold your hands in front of you at around mid-chest with your fingers creating a church steeple. Body language experts say this shows confidence and authority.

I’ll leave you with one ‘not to do’.

Crossing your arms is an easy posture to fall into and it makes you look unapproachable.

And that’s not how you want to be seen when you’re delivering your next presentation. You want to open the connection to your audience with wide and open body language.

Give those three techniques a try.

“In our first meeting Janice said she would get me to the point I would actually feel excited to present (and not anxious). I didn’t believe her, but after her coaching, practice, and repetition I delivered a presentation to an audience of two-hundred people that I actually enjoyed giving, and received rave reviews from the audience! Janice did exactly as promised. “

​​​​David Getzlaf
Strategy Manager, Autonomy & Positioning, Hexagon

It’s possible…

(info on public speaking coaching package)

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