“What do I do with my hands?” This is certainly not the first question you ask yourself in the morning or when you’re about to begin a presentation. However, on D-Day, if you are nervous and panicked in front of your audience, you will think about your posture, and your attention may focus on your hands. You’ll bombard yourself with questions, which we grant you, will not matter for the subject you’re about to defend. “Do I have to move my hands, put them in my pockets, place them behind my back, or at my side?” In short, you’ll be asking yourself what to do with your hands. Keeping with this thought process, you’ll start to wonder if your hands are betraying your thoughts. “If I talk too much with my hands, will I lose the attention of my audience?” Perhaps, at this moment, you’ll think of famous speakers or your favorite speaker. In this short lapse of time, which seems like forever, you’ll wonder if speaking with one’s hands is something that’s bestowed upon leaders and whether it will affect the scope of your message: “Will it impact my audience more?” So, what do you do with your hands when speaking?
“What do I do with my hands?” This is probably not the question you ask yourself most often on a daily basis. And yet, last week, when you finally presented the project that you’d been working on for many months to your team, it was this question that crossed your mind: “What do I do with my hands?” So, here you are procrastinating and testing different options at the same time, each less satisfactory than the other: by my side? In my pockets? On my hips? Clinging to the mic? A week later, thinking back to your calamitous presentation, a question remains unanswered: Why did I think about my hands at that precise moment?
This is your lucky day, because the ZEPRESENTERS Story-managers have a lot to say to enlighten you on the subject.
First of all, rest assured, you are not alone in thinking about your hands, in the middle of a high stakes’ presentation. Indeed, speaking in public subjects us to the scrutiny of others and activates our social image. A social image is that little voice in your head that keeps asking, “what do people think of me?” It’s also the feeling of an intense look at you, analyzing your every move. But the good news is that this look is not in fact that of the audience: it is yours! Whenever you’re wondering what people think of you, you are actually conforming to the image you would like to convey.
A Social Image is your ally
It is normal to want to get rid of a social image, and detach yourself from this look that destabilizes you. And yet this look is precious and can prove to be your best ally. It is considered to be a great indicator, a signal that tells you that you’re not focused on the right things. In other words, if the thought of your hands crosses your mind, it is a signal that you must refocus on what is important: your audience and the change you are promising them.
Because, your goal as a speaker is not to change what people think of you, but to change the way they perceive your ideas and project(s). And it is precisely because you are going to change what they think of your idea, that they will change what they think of you and will be led to identify you are a key opinion leader.
The intention sets the movement
Now that you’re focused on your message, let’s get back to your hands. The hands are directly connected to your thoughts. If you are fully focused on your idea and the impact you want to have on your audience, your hands will move naturally because they know their role. However, if you think about the position of your hands, they will adopt a forced posture, which may not be the right one.
Because the right posture is simply when you don’t think about it.
If there’s one thing that can help you, it’s the intent that you put into your words. If you want to insist on an idea, your hands will express themselves. If you want to communicate a particular emotion, your hands will take care of it without you asking them to.
It is therefore by betting on your message, your influence and your intentions that you will create the state where you no longer think about your hands and they will come to life naturally.
Finally, to the question, “what should I do with my hands?” the answer is simple but probably contradictory to everything you have heard so far: forget about them! And to forget them, you have the best alarm system in your hands to bring you back on the right path: your idea, your message. The rest will be done naturally.
Oh, and since we are talking about hands, during this critical coronavirus period, we’d like to take the opportunity to remind you to: wash your hands!