"What should I do with my hands?"

October 20, 2020

This is one of the most-asked questions our team of Wixted & Company trainers hears from our clients. Whether we are working with a group of executives to prepare for upcoming media interviews or a CEO on a pivotal presentation, our advice is the same – use them!

You’re not refereeing a football game, so get your hands off your hips.  You’re not being arrested, so unlock your hands from behind your back.  This isn’t the photo for the high school wrestling team, so not locked in front of you either.  And for you arms-crossed-in-front-of-you communicators out there – stop it!  Nothing says I’m here to divide and defend faster than that.

1)    Get your hands in position

Picture yourself holding a tray – that should be your default hand position.  From there, you should use your hands to make a point, to emphasize something or to count with – just the way you would normally do when talking to a friend. 

One of the great benefits of using your hands when you speak is that gestures unlock your facial expressions. Presenters who use their hands are typically more engaging, and they come across as more energetic, enthusiastic, and persuasive to their audiences.

2)    Use your hands purposefully

Using your hands when speaking also helps with information recall, and in some cases, gestures actually matter more than words.  Researchers from Erasmus University asked investors to watch one of four versions of a video of an entrepreneur pitching a new device: In the first video, the presenter used a lot of figurative language; the second video included frequent hand motions; the third included both figurative language and hand gestures; and the final video included neither. The results? Those who saw the video with only the frequent hand motions were on average 12 percent more interested in investing. [1] 

3)    Treat a video conference call like an in-person presentation

At this point in 2020, you might be asking, “Why do hand gestures matter? With video conferencing being the new normal, all I need to do is look at the camera lens, right?” As many businesses adjust to virtual and remote workflow, building authentic connections is more important than ever.  Knowing how to use your hands effectively is vital to successfully delivering any message in a meeting.          

Let the team at Wixted & Company give you a helping hand with your next interview or presentation.