By Kendall Martin
Do you worry about what to do with your hands while you speak?
I recently read an article reviewing the Duchess of Cambridge’s first public speech. The comments regarding body language focused primarily on her arms. The reviewer thought that her arms hung stiffly beside her body and lacked the fluidity that comes with being comfortable and confident while giving a speech.
To an extent, I’d have to disagree. While you don’t want to stand with your arms hanging too stiffly beside you, you also don’t want to move in a way that is unnatural to you.
If you are giving a speech behind a podium, and you aren’t someone who talks with your hands naturally, your best bet is to keep your hands down by your side.
Your natural disposition is what people will respond to best. Moving your arms or hands for the sake of movement can come across as forced and distracting. Avoid excessive movements like flipping papers, gripping the podium and pointing to the audience, as those things can create barriers between you and your listeners.
Some simple exercises prior to a speaking engagement should be enough to keep you from looking stiff. Do these stretches right before you go on stage:
- Roll your head around clockwise and counterclockwise several times.
- Slump forward and allow your arms to hang. Move both arms from right to left several times while still bent forward.
- Stretch with your arms above your head while standing on your tip-toes.
- Hold your arms to your side at a 90° angle and twist your body back and forth.
What advice do you have for incorporating natural hand/arm movements into a speech?