Tag Archives: presentation

How to Use Hand Gestures in Public Speaking?

How to Use Hand Gestures in Public Speaking?

Do you know how to use hand gestures in public speaking?
What do you do with your hands?

Have you ever watched someone’s hand gestures when they are talking? Open hand gestures tend to make a person appear open and honest. Bringing hands together to a point can accent the point you are making.

Wringing your hands or excessively moving your fingers and hands will give away nervousness.

public speaking hand gestures

Read the article written by Jena McGregor and Shelly Tan dated November 17, 2015  (The Washington Post). It is a good reference for what to do with your hands while speaking in public.

What to do with your hands when speaking in public?

Here are the key points:

  1.  Keep hand movements descriptive.
  2.  Use open palm gestures to build the audience’s trust.
  3.  Keep your hands in the strike zone when possible.
  4.  Don’t point. Just don’t.
  5. Politicians love to use the “Clinton thumb.” Most people shouldn’t.
  6.  When you don’t know what to do, drop your hands to your sides for a moment.
  7. Avoid drawing attention to the wrong places.
  8. Conducting is for orchestras, not public speaking.
  9. Keep objects out of you hands.
  10. If behind a lectern, show your hands.
  11. Avoid “spider hands.”

The following youtube videos demonstrate how to use your hands – and how not to – while giving a presentation. I find these videos useful and would like to share with you.

Communication does not just consist of words. Less than 10% of the words we use in speaking gets through to others. On the other hand, over 55% of our body language is communicated to others very clearly. Whether you are trying to sell your product or service to a client or you are trying to persuade a group of people to change their behavior, it is critical that your words and gestures match. Many people have sabotaged their messages because their words were saying one thing, while their bodies were saying the exact opposite.

Can you think of a time when someone told you that he would be able to do something while his head was shaking no? Which did you believe, the words or the gesture? When your body movements are congruent with your words, your message will have a very powerful impact on your audience.

Gestures include your posture, the movement of your eyes, hands, face, arms and head, as well as your entire body. They help to support or reinforce a particular thought or emotion. If our gestures support our statements, we are communicating with a second sense. People tend to understand and remember messages better when more than one sense is reached.

Winston Churchill was a master at using gestures to powerfully bring home his point. During World War II, Churchill rallied the citizens of Great Britain to continue their fight against overwhelming odds. He often visited the neighborhoods of London, which had been devastated by bombs and walked through them with his fingers held up in the sign of a “V”. This victory sign accompanied his famous message, “Never give in. Never, never, never give in.” This gesture so powerfully communicated Churchill’s message that soon people gained greater resolve to continue fighting whenever they saw the victory sign.

People naturally use gestures in conversations. They are not on the spot, so they easily move their arms and hands and make facial expressions to illustrate the points they are trying to make. However, an amazing thing happens when people stand up in front of a group to speak. They suddenly think, “Oh no! What am I going to do with these things attached to my shoulders?” and they either don’t move them at all or they move them awkwardly. Gestures should be a natural extension of who we are. Presenters should strive to be themselves. They should be as spontaneous with their movements as if they were talking to their family or friends.

What are you doing with your hands? If you get nervous in social situations, you may feel that no matter what you do with your hands, it’s the wrong thing. Many people who cross their arms in front of their chest are probably doing so at least in part because they don’t know where else to put their hands.

You should never cross your arms in front of your chest unless you really don’t want anybody to approach you. That is the message this gesture sends out. If you want to look open and approachable, keep your arms at your sides. Holding your arm in front of your body can be seen as a signal that you want to defend yourself against other people.

Practice Makes Natural.
A good way to be comfortable with gestures is to know your speech well. Several of the most outstanding speakers offer the same piece of advice: “The key to effectively using gestures is to know your material so well, to be so well prepared, that your gestures will flow naturally.” Practice your speech and know it well so that you can enjoy sharing your message with others.

Join Toastmasters and find a club that you like to practise your speeches in a friendly environments. You are welcome to visit our Kampong Ubi Toastmasters Club if you are living in Singapore.

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Public Speaking Tips: Common Presentation Mistakes

Public Speaking Tips: Common Presentation Mistakes You Should Avoid

Public Speaking

Public speaking can be daunting.

Public speaking is the number one fear for a large majority of people. To share the message you desire to get out there you need to be good in your presentation.

Do you rely too heavily on notes when speaking?
Do you avoid eye contact?
Learn how to steer clear of some common speaking mistakes that might alienate an audience…

Here are some common presentation mistakes that you should avoid when speaking:

7 common mistakes to avoid when giving a presentation

Public Speaking Mistake #1 – Being Unprepared
Preparation is key for an effective presentation.

Public Speaking Mistake #2 – Not Knowing Your Audience
Tailor your presentation for relevance to your audience.

Public Speaking Mistake #3 – Not Having Clear Points
Give your audience a simple take away from your message by breaking it up into smaller points.

Public Speaking Mistake #4 – Over Dependence On Visuals
Don’t let your audience be victims of death by powerpoint!

Public Speaking Mistake #5 – Not Getting Honest Feedback
The simplest method to improve your presentation skills is to ask for feedback.

Bonus Tip #1: Not Having Your Timing Right
Comedians will tell you that the perfect joke relies more on timing than content.

Bonus Tip #2: Not Having A ‘Plan B’
What if…
… your opening line falls flat, the microphone fails, or you are constantly interrupted?
Create a contingency plan for a few worst case scenarios.
Don’t let your message be muted.

Youtube Video: Common Speaking Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some additional common speaking mistakes that you should avoid when doing your presentations:

1. Hiding from the audience.
2. Reading from your notes.
3. Offending your audience.
4. Not knowing your audience.
5. Obscuring your message.

For details, check out the below video about Speaking Mistakes to Avoid.

13 Additional Public Speaking Mistakes You Never Want to Make from Business Insider

1. Not tailoring your message to your audience
“Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours.”
“On the other hand, if you don’t talk to your audience about themselves, they most likely won’t listen.”

2. Eye dart
“From beginners to veterans, the majority of speakers fail to maintain meaningful, sustained eye contact with their listeners.
To visually connect, maintain eye contact for at least two to three seconds per person, or long enough to complete a full phrase or sentence.”

3. Distracting mannerisms
“There are at least 20 common tics to tackle, including: clenching or wringing your hands, pacing back and forth, keeping your hands in pockets, jingling change or keys, twisting your ring, gripping the lectern, licking your lips, adjusting your hair or clothing, fidgeting with a pen, bobbing your head, placing your arms behind your back, and touching your face.
As a remedy, record yourself speaking and watch the playback.”

4. Low energy
“A boring delivery — evidenced by a low monotone voice, dull facial expressions, and overall lethargy — is their most disliked trait.”
“To avoid losing your audience in a New York minute, crank up the energy level,” says Price. “Speak expressively, smile sincerely, move naturally, and enjoy the moment.”

5. Not rehearsing
Most proficient presenters prepare. “That is, they know the topic, organize their content, design a slide deck, and study their notes,” Price says.
“This bad habit results in the audience seeing and hearing the unrefined run-through, versus the finessed final performance.”

6. Data dumping
“Ditch the habit of data dumping. It loses the audience and undermines your innate ability to inspire, connect, and persuade.”

7. Not inspiring
“An engaging, memorable, and persuasive presentation is balanced with both information and inspiration.”
“It speaks to the head and the heart, leveraging both facts and feelings.”

8. Lack of pauses
“Many speakers have the bad habit of rushing through their content.”
“The three times you definitely want to pause include: before and after you say something very important which you want your audience to remember; before and after you transition from one key talking point to the next; and between your opening, main body, and closing.”

9. Not crafting a powerful opening
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.
So, open with a bang. Invest the thought, time and effort to craft and memorize the most important part of the work.”

10. Using too much (or not enough) humor
“You don’t want your presentation to be dry and boring, but you also don’t want to come off like you’re trying too hard to be a stand-up comedian.
A good rule of thumb is to be yourself, and infuse a bit of humor when appropriate.”

11. Reading from your slides
“The people watching your presentation can read, so giving them the exact same information verbally and visually can be boring and insulting.
Use slides as visual signposts for the points you’re making rather than a written version or summary of those points.”

12. Making an excuse or an apology
“Making an excuse or an apology sets a negative tone and gives people a reason to think your presentation was underwhelming.”

13. Ending with Q&A
“It’s fine to invite the audience’s comments and questions; however, be sure to end strong.”
“Craft an effective three-part closing where you deliver a strong summary; present a call-to-action; and conclude with a powerful closing statement.”

Need more public speaking mistakes to avoid?

Here are the Top 10 Presentation Mistakes mentioned in the below videos:

1. Little, if any, advanced planning and practice.

2. “Me” focused.

3. Lack of clarity and structure.

4. Too much information.

5. Lack of creativity or a Big idea.

6. Little client interaction.

7. Visuals: Too much, too many or none at all.

8. Reading slides or speech.

9. “Ums,” “so” and “you know”.

10. Weak opening/ closing or call to action.

Have you made any of the above mistakes in your presentations?

For details, check out the below videos for tips on top 10 public speaking presentation mistakes created by Marc Corsini…

We all make mistakes, even for professionals.

Here are the 10 public speaking mistakes successful people don’t make:

1. Feeling nervous about speaking in front of groups
“Arrive 15 to 20 minutes early to make sure the technology is working. Practice your opening so you will feel more comfortable. Turn your audience from strangers to friends by saying hi. Focus on serving the audience.”

2. Not telling great stories

3. Having a voice that shakes
“Warm up your voice before speaking. Breathe in through your nose, fill up your tummy.”

4. Avoiding humor

5. Picturing the audience “in their underwear”
Stop doing that. Picture talking to your friends in the living room instead.

6. Worrying about what to say during the Q&A
“Write down the possible questions people may ask you during the presentation. Practice answering these questions.”

7. Making a PowerPoint bullet-point data dump
“People want to listen to you, not your slides.
Storyboard your ideas with sticky notes. Find powerful images. Create engaging slides.”

8. Opening with “Good morning, everyone. Today I will talk about … “
“B-O-R-I-N-G. You only have seven seconds to grab your audience’s attention.
A great way is to ask a rhetorical question.”

9. Believing “practice makes perfect”
“Practice doesn’t make perfect; practice with feedback makes great improvement.”

10. Having a weak closing
“To inspire action, summarize your key points. Repeat your message. Give a specific action step.”

Avoid making the above mentioned presentation mistakes and get over your fear of public speaking.

If you want to overcome stage fright and learn to speak with confidence, join a toastmasters club.
You are welcome to visit our Kampong Ubi Toastmasters Club if you are living in Singapore.

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