Using Gestures in Your Public Speaking

by | Nov 26, 2010 | Marketing & Selling

public speaking gestures
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I am an animated speaker. In fact, I’ve been told if someone tied my hands, I wouldn’t be able to speak. Often, when I’m talking on the phone or on a teleseminar, I’ll be waving my hands about, emphasizing points in the conversation … despite the fact that the person on the other end of the line can see my gesticulations!

Research has found that 55% of your message is communicated through body language or gestures. Only 5% is communicated through your words.

This is why your gestures and body language are so important when giving a presentation.

Gestures To Avoid

There are a few things that novices do with our hands and body when up on the stage that are distracting and take away from your message. Work on eliminating these from your body talk:

Gripping the podium/lectern
The podium or lectern is there to hold your notes … not to hold you up. When you grip the sides like you are trying to hold it in place during a tornado, you increase your own anxiety and you distract from your message. People will notice your white knuckles and start thinking about you being nervous rather than what you have to say.

Many speakers pace back and forth across the stage. This works well in moderation, especially when you are emphasizing a point or maintaining eye contact with a large audience. But if you pace back and forth too much, to quickly or, even worse, with you head down focusing on your shoes, your movements will distract your audience from what you are saying.

Flailing arms
Remember how I said that I was an animated speaker? Well, there is too much of a good thing when it comes to arm and hand gestures. If you are moving your arms about willy nilly with no obvious reason other than to dissipate nervous energy, then your audience will pay more attention to your antics than your message.

Hands in pockets
There are times when this works for speaker, but most of the time is just makes you look nervous. Besides, do you really want to draw attention to your waist? Probably not.

Using Gestures Effectively

Your body language should support your words, reinforce them. Use gestures to emphasize a point, to draw attention to a visual aid, or to illustrate something that you are saying. Be mindful of what your body is saying and train yourself to be in whole body congruence … your words saying the same thing your body is.

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What is your biggest challenge around giving presentations?
Join the conversation on Facebook or ask your question in the reply box below! If you’re feeling really creative, you can send me a voice mail or post a video with your question. I’ll post answers to your questions on the Public Speaking Super Powers blog. And, if you like, I’ll give you credit to! For more information on how to ask your public speaking questions, watch this video.

“If Public Speakers Were Superheroes,
What Would Their Super Powers Be?”

And Could YOU Develop Those Powers Too?

Carma’s new book, Public Speaking Super Powers, will show you the essential skills you need to successfully use public speaking in your life, work and business, and how to develop them. Culled from personal experience and the wisdom of more than 80 business owners and professional speakers, the information in this book will inspire you to unleash your inner public speaking superhero.

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