Use hand gestures effectively, so they don’t make you look foolish

Use hand gestures effectively, so they don’t make you look foolish

If I was  told that I need to present with only 1 speech element excluding words, I would definitely choose to do this just by using my hands. Why?

Because I’m aware of the power of conveying messages we all keep in our hands without a word spoken. But I also know that most people simply don’t use their gestures correctly while presenting. Result?

A person who aimlessly moves hands around, looking awkward to the audience.

Picture 1: Someone from the audience looking really confused after you demonstrate every singe karate move that exists 🙂

It’s not a secret that your arms can drastically enhance your speech or presentation. However, in order to achieve this, you must understand how to use them wisely.

Most of us are taught wrongly

Your school teachers, parents and even some communications experts can tell you to avoid moving your hands constantly throughout the speech for at least 3 reasons:

  • Over-gesturing grabs people’s attention. Instead of listening to your words, they are going to follow what you do and lose interest in what you have to say
  • It reduces the level of focus on the presentation itself, causing you to feel confused
  • The subconscious impression of the audience is that such a person lacks expertise or confidence, even if this may not be the case

And this is correct to some extent, let’s be honest here. However, by following this advice strictly, many people neglect the power of their gestures. It is proved that the most popular ted talkers were making 465 hand gestures over 18 min, unlike the least popular ones who used only 272.

May your hands work for you

In order to achieve this, you must gain a strategic approach to your gestures. Which means learning how, and when to use your hands for maximum effect. But caution: Some gestures can mean different things in different cultures. Therefore, you are strongly advised to research the audience during the preparation of your speech.

In order to prevent possible misunderstanding, discover the cultural traits of people to whom you are addressing. If you are not familiarized with their way of non verbal communication, get some relevant insights and incorporate them into your speech.

Raise your hand after you ask the question

Picture 2: Dog clearly waiting for the audience to respond

Snap fingers to decrease the value of something

“This problem is very easy to solve”

Picture 3: Snapping fingers helps you decrease the value of certain thing

Whenever you want to describe how a certain thing has a small impact and is not so disturbing, snap your fingers. This gesture is very powerful, because it combines visual and sound elements at the same time.

People usually accept this sign very positively. It is well known but not used too often, which makes the audience understand how simple, yet extremely effective it can be.

Show your palm sideways

This gesture looks like holding your hand as you are shaking someone’s hand.

Picture 4: Handshake is really similar to this gesture

Use this gesture to reveal something your audience wanted to discover during your speech. For example, a conclusion of a story that solves the problem or a secret information people were not aware of.

You can also apply this to a point, without showing the fingers, which is generally considered extremely rude.

Alas, you converted my simple gestures into quantum physics: What should I do with my hands?

Come on, it’s not that difficult 🙂

You need to see your hands as the integral part of your speech, so feel free to do what comes naturally. Gestures are very important, but it’s totally wrong getting too choreographed with them.

Many people lack a strategic approach to this, resembling the ignorant pantomiming person.

Still not sure how to use my hands properly?

Let’s arrange a free call, to fix those gestures so you look and feel confident when presenting in public.

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Instantly applicable tips for preparing your speech

Instantly applicable tips for preparing your speech

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Record yourself
  • Ask people to give you honest feedback
  • Familiarize yourself with the venue
  • Slow your heart rate

Introduction

Let me ask you a question. If you were a soccer player who is aware of a very important match starting in a week, would you do some training beforehand?

Same goes with presenting in public. Noah Zandan, behavioral scientist, estimated he spent nearly 100 hours writing, rewriting, and rehearsing the talk for a TEDx event.

Photo 1: Noah Zandan

Although you don’t need to devote such a long time to every speaking engagement, it’s worth knowing that good preparation plays a crucial role for a successful speech.

Most people unfortunately don’t work on their delivery, focussing on the content instead. As a result, the audience doesn’t listen to them.

They become just one of those many speakers whose audience can’t wait for them to finish.

Good preparation can really make you stand out from the crowd. If you carefully work on your speech, nothing can stop you from presenting in a charming way that is rarely experienced by presenters.

Moreover, you will know how to:

Therefore, let’s share 4 simple, but yet very powerful and effective preparing strategies. They are used by the world’s most famous people like Steve Jobs or John F. Kennedy for enhancing every single speech they ever had.

Record yourself

Photo 2: Picture of the woman recording herself

I know this may sound so scary to you. But trust me, this is one of the most useful public speaking tips you can get.

Many people feel embarrassed looking and listening to themselves, and that’s ok. In fact it’s not your fault at all.

There are three key reasons that cause you dislike seeing yourself recorded:

  • you never had the opportunity or simply a need to do so
  • in most cases, you are the one who watches others presenting
  • observing yourself on camera doesn’t come by nature, so you may look and speak differently than you think

However, watching yourself will definitely help you catch the pain points, in order to work on their improvements.

So, next time you prepare to speak, do the following:

  • record a section or the entire speech by any appropriate device like webcam or cellphone; Watch and listen to it carefully
  • outline both positive and negative things about your presenting in separate columns
  • in each of your next rehearsals, work on every single critique you noticed one by one
  • do this until you are satisfied with the entire speech or presentation

Ask people to give you honest feedback

Photo 3: Women speaking while others are listening

This is easier than it seems.

You just need to gather several trustworthy people and kindly ask if they can follow your speech and give their personal opinion.

You should however tend to make your testing audience as similar as possible to the real one, which is going to put their eyes and ears on you.

For instance, if you plan to speak in front of your managers or directors, have your colleagues review your delivery.

In case you pitch the startup to investors, it would be perfect to be evaluated by a person who is the investor as well , and so on.

Familiarize yourself with the venue

Photo 4: Person exploring the venue

Try to visit the place where you are expected to speak such as: Conference room, classroom, and even the office before presenting. Walk around and feel the space.

Ideally, practice your speech at least once in this environment. It will help you explore the vibe and equipment being used in advance.

Slow your heart rate

Photo 5: Women holding hear hands above her heart

Fast heart rate often appears as a consequence of public speaking fear and adrenaline, a hormone released into your body in stressful situations.

However, you can slow your heart rate and reduce public speaking fear just with breathing.

When you notice your heart rate increasing, Close your mouth and nose, raising the pressure in your chest. Release nostrils and Inhale for 5-8 seconds. Hold your breath for 3-5 seconds, and exhale slowly for another 10-15 seconds. Repeat this exercise until your heart rate starts decreasing.

To sum up, consider implementing certain, or even better all of those things when preparing for the next speech or presentation:

  • recording yourself
  • asking people to give you honest feedback
  • getting to know the space where you five the speech
  • slowing your heart rate with breathing

I personally always do a few records of my presentation and do my best to visit the room where my speaking engagement will take place.

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5 ways to hook the audience while speaking

5 ways to hook the audience while speaking

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou (American poet)

Audience attention spans are quite short. It is especially true nowadays when virtual events became our reality. Remember, you have only 15 seconds to grab their interest, but holding them engaged throughout the entire speech is more difficult. Before you dive into techniques that unconsciously keep people on the edge of their seats, let’s explore a few general facts:

• In most cases, the audience knows less about the speaking topic than you

• People do care about the matter, but the manner you say makes them leave it or believe it;

• The attention levels peak after you use humor

• audience want a speaker to succeed because people feel excruciating if they see you nervous or confused

Since the audience is virtually always by your side during the presentation, here are some tactics that will make it stick to your words even more.

1. Asking an intriguing question

There are not so many effective methods to captivate the audience as asking a provocative question. The well-crafted question must elicit certain emotions among the people. If you want  this tactic to work, the question must be well adjusted to the topic you are speaking about and contain the emotion that needs to be experienced.

In case you speak about the actions people can take to reduce air pollution, your intriguing question may sound like this:

“How would you feel if you found out that your best friend’s parent who recently passed away could survive just in case you use gas logs instead of wood?

This will make others think about the consequences of their choices and consider changing habits. Of course, should your audience feel happy or surprised, the question must be stated differently.

2. Tell a personal story

Words tell stories to sell. It’s proven that personal experiences are extremely good teasers. The best way to do this is through a well-crafted, catchy story. The human brain is hard-wired to remember an effective story rather than sheer information.

Illustrating your points in the way you speak in daily life, can significantly boost audience interest. However, this is far easier said than done. The effective story must be tied to the speaking topic and delivered properly. It should cause excitement and joy providing a solution to the problem that occurred.

3. Make a joke

Being witty can definitely relax and engage. Humor always works because it makes people laugh so they tend to listen to such things.

Unless you are a stand-up comic, your speech is not expected to be entirely humorous. Humor is a powerful weapon, but it should be strategically used. Include entertaining pieces inappropriate spots only and pay attention not to use revolting language. I often recommend students carefully research the views of their audience, to avoid possible misunderstanding.

4. Allow your audience to vote

Opposed opinions are everywhere. Give people a chance to put them up and you will be appreciated. You can do this by asking the audience to choose a specific point of view, out of two or three available.

Simple polling is quite a practical way to activate your audience. However, asking a trivial question like “Do you prefer coffee or tea?” won’t work that well, since most people have the answer ready. I suggest you give a question which will foster the audience to think, where the choice is not easy.

5. Use pauses in a speech

Silence is one of the most effective ways to get other’s attention. When a speaker pauses:

• The audience is focused completely on you;

• You look confident;

• The audience will have more time to process your message;

They will keep eyes on you

Be advised to pause when you want to signal that something important is on the way, or right before you start speaking.

Which strategy should I use?

Honestly, I don’t know. In most cases, it depends upon your goals, type of audience, speaking occasion, etc. There are no good or bad ones and you are welcome to combine some, or even append them all within a speech.

Have you ever used any of these or similar techniques to captivate the audience? Give us a comment about this article or share your experiences.