More on Arms and Hands

I was watching a video of an ex-TV correspondent turned  media trainer today.  Almost everything was right on the mark—EXCEPT his body language. He was talking to a group of people, arms tightly folded in front of him.

Now, many body language experts say that folded arms mean you’re closed to your audience.   I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I was taken by  the fact that he didn’t seem to know what to do with his hands.  Being on TV makes it easy: either a correspondent is sitting at a desk, so we only see the top part of the body; or he or she is holding a microphone, instantly giving them something to do with their hands.

Speaking without a mike in hand, especially to a live audience, presents other challenges. It may be okay to fold your arms if you’re talking to a small group.  However, imagine how awkward this would look talking to a group of 100 or more people.

I always teach the “neutral” position.– Shoulders relaxed, hands loosely at your side.  Hand gestures should  be used sparingly; otherwise, they can distract from your message.  Gestures should come  out of meaning, to emphasize a point or emotion.

At first, cutting down on gestures will be uncomfortable for people who are used to wildly gesticulating.   However, gestures will take on greater meaning when used discerningly.

Coming Attractions

  • Simple exercises to help you relax arms and shoulders
  • New edition of The Public Speaking Wire newsletter–Subscribe Here.


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