Gesture THIS Way: How to Use Your Hands When Presenting

Tue Aug 29, 2017

Jessica Helinski

Want to make your presentations stand out and stick with your audiences? Consider adding gestures. Whether you are pitching to a couple of prospects or addressing a large conference audience, hand gestures can add interest to what you’re saying. “Gesturing actually makes people pay closer attention to the acoustics of speech,” writes Brian Lee, chief of product management at Lifehack. “When they see a gesture, they expect that there is dialogue to go along with it.”

Lee goes on to share some examples of engaging hand gestures that you should consider integrating into your speeches, including:

Palms Up

Holding your arms out with the palms up is a move that indicates openness and honesty. This gesture is inviting to your audience and not at all threatening. Also, Lee cites research that found lecturers who mainly used the palm up gesture received 84% positive feedback (compared to 52% of those whose palms were face-down).

Hand steepling (vs. wringing)

Steepling fingers together was a favorite move by a well-regarded speaker: Steve Jobs. This gesture suggests wisdom and confidence, while hand-wringing makes the speaker appear finicky and unsure. Lee suggests using this gesture during intermediate moments, like switching topics.


Want to persuade your audience? Hold out your hand as if shaking, revealing the side of your palm. “You are literally reaching out to your audience, and it will make them want to meet you halfway,” Lee explains. “Since you have their undivided attention, it will be much easier to persuade them.”

When putting together your next presentation, consider how you can integrate a gesture or two into your speech. By doing so, you are enhancing the words you speak. Your subtle body language will help further engage your audience and earn their support.


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About Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on the specialties of local account category research and audience trends. She reports on sales and presentation tips for Media Sales Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.

View all posts by Jessica Helinski