Use These Hand Gestures During A Presentation

During a presentation, we mainly use two forms of communication, verbal and nonverbal. Nonverbal communication is commonly referred as body language. We are able to send messages through the use of our body without saying it verbally. Body language includes hand gestures, eye contact, facial expression and postures.

In this article we will be focusing on hand gestures to use during a presentation. Apart from being able to convey messages and feelings through the use of gestures, research studies have suggest that the use of gestures helps to remember information better.

We have group gestures into the following categories, those that help to improve the image you portray to the audience and those that help to make your message more memorable. 

Gestures that improves your image you portray to the audience

Not all hand gestures convey the same message or carry the same weight. There are negative and positive gestures. Engaging in negative (also known as closed) gestures make you appear less trustworthy and guarded. Whereas displaying positive (also known as opened) gestures makes you look approachable and likeable. As a result, this helps to improve your image as a speaker.

1.     Open Palms

Opening your palms when you present is a classic example of a positive gesture because it conveys honesty and openness.
Image Credit: Giphy

When your audience deems that you have nothing to hide, they are more likely to trust you. This enables you to get your message across more easily.

2.     Touching Heart

Touching your heart is a gesture that signify ‘Trust Me!’ When you use this gesture, you are signalling to the audience that everything you say comes from your heart.

This gesture is best used when you are advocating something as it helps to sculpt your image as an authentic and trustworthy speaker.

Use these hand gestures during presentations - touching heart
Image Credit: Unsplash

3.     Steepled Hands

Steepled hands is a gesture where all finger tips touch each other. It is commonly used by politicians such as Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy (The former president of France). Investor like George Soros (billionaire hedge-fund manager) and businessman Kelvin O Leary (Co-founder of Softkey, a technology company that sold software geared towards family education and entertainment) also use this gesture when they speak.

Use these hand gestures during a presentation
Image Credit: Giphy
Image Credit: Armin Linnartz

Using this gesture helps you exhibit confidence and shows that you know what you are talking about. As a result, you will be able to garner the audience’s trust and deliver an impactful presentation.

After listing gestures that help to improve the image you portray to your audience, we will move on to explore gestures that makes your message more memorable.

Gestures that makes your message more memorable

4. Numbering

The numbering gesture refers to listing numbers with your hands. This simple gesture is usually used when the speaker starts a new point.

An example of its application would be “moving on to the second point…” (use your hand to show the number two while saying this sentence)

5. This and That

This and That is an interesting and powerful persuasion gesture used to show contrasting ideas. It is an extremely useful gesture because it helps the audience to visualise when you present contrasting ideas. As a result of being able to see what you are presenting, your audience are more likely to remain engaged throughout your presentation.

Gestures that makes your messages more memorable - this and that

6. Unite

Unite is also another interesting hand gesture you can adopt in your presentation. It involves spreading out both of your arms (one if you are holding a mic) and gesturing it inwards. This represents two forces combing into one. Examples of context which you can utilise this gesture includes presenting the launch of a new product, delivering a proposal of company partnership.

Gestures that makes your messages more memorable - Unite
Image Credit: Flickr - Steve Jurvetson

Although this article listed several positive hand gestures you can use in your next presentation, do bear in mind to use them appropriately for maximum effectiveness. Apart from adopting positive hand gestures, you might be interested to know about the negative hand gestures to avoid in your presentation. Refer to this article for more information [Avoid these negative body language gestures in a presentation]

Looking to improve other aspects of public speaking? Refer to the following useful articles.

[How to improve your speaking voice]

[How to project your voice and speak louder]

[How to use an appropriate tone of voice]

[Speech exercises to improve articulation]

[Public speaking postures to Adopt to project Confidence]

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