Your body language, including your hand gestures, can help drive your message home and encourage empathy, especially when you’re giving an important presentation or speaking in public. Here are some specific gestures to keep in mind for your next talk.
The video above, from Vanessa Van Edwards, outlines some of these gestures and offers some examples in speech, but for those who can’t watch, here are the big ones:
- When you say a number, show that number with your fingers. For example, “There are three next steps we need to take to complete this project on deadline.”
- Use your hands to underscore the importance of an issue. If you say, “This is a small roadblock,” you would hold your thumb and pointer finger a little ways apart to show how small the problem is. For an important or big problem, hold your hands wider apart to give your words visual impact.
- Emphasise emotional topics by placing a hand over your heart. This matches statements like, “This is so important to me.”
- Help others keep track of your explanation of two different groups by representing one group with each hand. Let’s say you’re comparing two proposals and your left hand is proposal one and your right hand is proposal two. Each time you mention proposal one, raise your left hand a little higher and vice versa. This helps your audience keep track of which proposal you’re discussing as you go along.
- Show two things being brought together by bringing your hands together. An example from the above video: “I match people with their perfect home.” As you say “people”, you raise one hand, as you say “home” you raise the other, and at the end of your sentence bring your hands together. It sounds hokey, but the visual emphasis helps a lot.
The main takeaway is that you want your hand gestures to match what you’re saying. Don’t gesture just to add movement to your speech, but consider them when you’re practising your talk as a way to keep your audience engaged with what you’re saying.
7 Hand Gestures You Should Be Using [Vanessa Van Edwards (YouTube)]