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.
- Simple exercises to help you relax arms and shoulders
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