It cannot be denied that the body language of a presenter is one of the key determinants of the effectiveness of the presentation. While ‘body language’ is a vast arena, one of the most common, effective, and wrongly used aspects of body language is hand gestures.
When you’re dealing with people or when you have to persuade them, convince them, get them on your side, or get your idea accepted, you need your hands to do the right talking.
A lot of power is in your hands, which is something most people fail to understand. It affects how people perceive you and how your message is communicated and significantly changes your physiology and attitude.
Good and rightly used hand gestures reflect a well-prepared and confident presenter. Here are some tips to ace hand gestures in a presentation:
1. Be Natural
Hand gestures are supposed to ‘add’ to your presentation by making it more comfortable, nuanced, and interactive. Using the correct hand gestures at the right time indeed takes a lot of skill and practice, but it shouldn’t look like it has been overdone or staged. It should seem natural and must be in sync with the content and the emotions reflected in the presentation.
Practicing hand gestures must be an integral part of the presentation because it is something that can go wrong if dealt with at the last minute. Overly done hand gestures, or hand gestures at the wrong time can distract the audience, and take their attention away from your presentation.
2. Depict Numbers and Symbols
It is a simple yet one of the most effective hand gestures to visualize a particular number or a symbol to communicate the message of the presentation. For example, if you are about to talk about five sub-topics, open up your palms and show the number five while you talk about it.
Another way to use hand gestures is when you intend to approve or disapprove of a particular idea, use the ‘thumbs up’ or the ‘thumbs down’ hand gesture. It not only keeps the audience attentive, but also helps them grasp your idea clearly.
3. Use Them Correctly
If hand gestures can make the presentation, they can break it too. Therefore, it is advised to use them wisely and correctly.
For example, to show an open-minded approach and to reflect yourself as ‘amicable,’ use the ‘palm up’ approach. On the other hand, if you want to convince the audience and portray yourself as slightly ‘authoritative’ for a particular subject, use the ‘palms down’ approach. Similarly, if you are aiming to make the audience feel a warm emotion, put your arms on your heart. On the other hand, if you are trying to talk about a life-changing narrative, open your arms wide.
Using the correct hand gestures also means not using the wrong ones. Ensure that you are not making any distracting gestures to your audience. For example, putting your hands in your pockets, constantly fixing your hair, pointing at someone, etc., can be distracting and can take away the message of the presentation.
4. Don’t Overdo
There must be one specific gesture that you would have mastered or will master in due course of time. While it can act as your strength, overdoing the same gesture or a lot of gestures can bore the audience and snatch your credibility. Most presenters tend to stretch their arms unreasonably. It makes the presentation look informal and tacky; therefore, keeping your arms within limits at a place where they are visible to the audience is the way to go. Always remember that excess of anything is bad.
While most people ignore it, it is an inevitable fact that how you use your hands in a presentation matters a lot. It reflects your professionality and develops a connection with the audience, which makes the presentation effective. Purposefully and rightfully using your hands can drastically increase the chance of success of your presentation.
So, practice beforehand so that you can truly take advantage of the power that lies in your hands while making and delivering a presentation!