What Do I Do With My Hands While Giving a Presentation
A really frequently asked question I get is: what do I do with my hands when I speak? Related to that question is the question of how do I stop moving my hands when giving a presentation.
This is a big issue with a lot of people who waste their time thinking about this. There is going to be some disagreement and I have talked about this before, but in my professional opinion, you should move your hands when you speak. In theory, is it possible to be wildly distracting with your gestures? Sure. But in general, the vast majority, by which I mean 99.99% of people, when I see someone moving their hands, in their gut, they feel more comfortable and they seem more confident, relaxed, and authoritative. The second you freeze your hands, you freeze and stiffen your body and you sound more monotone. Your head doesn’t move as much and you come across as scared, tentative, lacking in confidence, and generally uncomfortable.
So my recommendation for you is to move your hands when you speak. If you are not sure how to move your hands, ask a friend or family member to just record you sometime when you are talking and would not notice yourself being recorded. What you will see is that your hands will generally be moving. This is true for almost every person around the world.
So the answer to the question is, do not try to constrain your hands, it is not going to make you look any better, and try to move your hands throughout the time that you are speaking.
How do You deal With Audience Members Who are Texting During Your Presentation
Hang on, I will be with you in just a minute- no, I’m paying attention.
How do you deal with audience members who are texting during your presentation? It is annoying, it is insulting, but you cannot just go up to someone, hit them on the head, and tell them to cut it down. That would be rude and not a good thing to do. It is frustrating and it can take away your confidence.
Here is my advice: try to do something to bring them back. There are several strategies. Simply walk over to them, to begin with. If you are standing behind a lectern and that person is sitting thirty feet away, they will feel like you cannot see them. If you are just going to be frozen in one spot, you are inviting people to be texting and sending emails while you talk, so you have to walk around and walk over near them.
Another tactic is to throw out a question. Throw out a rhetorical question that is easy to answer. Address the person and simply ask them a question that can be answered with a simple nod or a shake of his head.
Another tactic is to go to a different part of the room, and without looking at the person who is busy with their phone, mention them in your speech. For example, if Bill is not paying attention, mention how you were talking to Bill in the hallway earlier and he had the exact same problem that you are just talking about. Calling out the person’s name without looking at them doesn’t make it seem that you are annoyed or telling them off like a school teacher. But the mention of their name makes them alert and feel like they need to be paying attention to what is being said.
At the end of it all, if your audience members are texting during your presentation, it may be a sign that you are boring! So make sure that what you are saying is interesting enough that the audience isn’t compelled to text while you speak.
How Do You Consistently Improve as a Presenter
How do you consistently get better as a speaker? How do you not be one of those people who sort of plateau who get to a B plus level but remain like that for the next thirty years?
It’s like a lot of skills in life. People who take a golf lesson once and golf once a year typically will not get much better. People who do both of those things frequently usually make some progress. They might not become professionals but they get better than someone who just plays golf once a year. It is the same with public speaking.
For starters, you have to look for every opportunity you can find to speak. Do not turn down speaking opportunities.
Next, always ask for feedback. Do not just ask them how you did but ask them what they remember from your speech. What did they take away? Really listen and try to figure out what you did well in that presentation so that you can use it when you next speak. See what did not work so that you work on it the next time.
You also have to look for your own public speaking role models. Watch YouTube or TED talks and look for people that you like and respect speak and learn from them. But you also have to do the opposite of that. You have to look for people that you do not like or respect and analyze what they do or do not do. For example, find a radio host who has opposite political views than you. Listen to them for five minutes every week and you will learn a lot about good communication. Find someone who is preaching a religion you do not believe in and analyze what they are doing. Not so that you can copy it, but so that you can expand your own public speaking toolkit.
Do that consistently and you will get better and better as a speaker.