What About Hand Gestures?
I get this kind of comment from clients all the time. They say, 'Here's the thing, Rose ... when I keep my hands at my sides, just sort of dangling there, it feels awkward. What the heck should I do with my hands?' Great question.
Here's what not to do:
1. Jiggle the change in your pocket. Check your pocket for the cell phone -- over and over.
"Is my iPhone there? Yes, there it is.
(10 seconds later)
Wait, where's my iPhone? Ah, yes. It's there.
2. Stand in "fig leaf" or parade rest (hands clasped in front or behind you).
3. Brush hair out of your face or readjust your glasses repeatedly.
4. Point at the audience. (If you must point, use the politician's solution which is to point with the knuckle of your index finger.)
5. Use jazz hands to convey your enthusiasm.
Well, then, what should you do? My advice is threefold. First, keep hand gestures natural, as if you're having a conversation with a small group of friends. Second, use them purposefully. By that, I mean either list a number (hold up 2 fingers to make your 2nd point) or use them to describe a specific activity or an object (ex: skipping a stone or a watch on your wrist). Finally, use hand gestures inclusively: open your arms and keep the palms up. Project an image that's welcoming -- even when you're inviting people to disagree with you! Check out the illustrations in this Washington Post article as well as the practical tips it offers.