This is why using gestures is natural for Communication. We have been doing this since we were babies and it a powerful way to increase the impact we make when we are speaking in meetings; presentations; pitching and public speaking. I was therefore delighted when research demonstrated that chimpanzees use gestures to communicate – and we can understand them!
Something I am asked consistently is “What do I do with my hands when speaking?” It is a really good question because we can feel awkward when we are speaking or presenting.
An additional challenge is that a number of people I have worked with have received ‘Presentation Skills Training’ where they have been told to move their hands or do a specific gesture when speaking. Or alternative a “Presentations Trainer” who isn’t a specialist in presenting tells individuals not to move their hands. The challenge is that it is unnatural and speakers are more concerned about remembering the hand movement or gesture or stopping moving their hands.
We naturally use our hands when we speak. These could be extremes: like the Sicilian Gesture – which is a language in itself https://www.sicilianpost.it/en/why-sicilian-gesture-is-a-real-language/ to less “flamboyant” cultures (I mean this with love) where there are smaller hand gestures.
One of my family’s TV hobbies is to watch TV presenters who have clearly had “Presentation Skills Training for TV” where they hold their hands in front of their tummy button, but away from the body. Either their fingers wriggle because they are desperately trying to use their hands when speaking but have been told – hold your hands in front of you. The alternative is the hold your hands then lift one hand up; back to the centre; lift the other hand and back to the centre. Gosh it really looks unnatural – and uncomfortable!
But what can we do to be more natural with our hands? I often ask clients to describe a film or book title only using non-verbal communication. This is rather like Charades. All of a sudden the client is using their hands, as well as facial expressions and body language!
I would also like you to consider how you could convey the following, using your hands, to compliment what you are saying.
- Something that is small, medium, large – it could be growth of a business, increased sales etc
- Share a list of 3 points using your hands
- You (referring to the audience)
How does that feel? Does it feel natural? What would you say when you are using these gestures? These are YOUR gestures, not ones I have told you to do, or an ‘NLP’ approach to communicating.
I am giving you permission to start using gestures and your hands.
This is one of a number of skills we cover in our Public Speaking and Presentation Skills course.
Now is the time to consider this sort of training for your team; for yourself; for a specific team member. Why don’t we have a call.