PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

There was a time when public speaking orthodoxy was that you let your arms hang loosely at your sides whenever you are not gesturing.  The idea was to keep your hands apart so that you did not unconsciously start wringing them or tightly clutching them together.

It’s rare to see a speaker adhere to this orthodoxy anymore because it feels awkward.  To counteract the awkwardness, I long ago started advising people to “cheat” by lightly touching the fingertips of one hand to a conveniently located piece of furniture, like a table.  This fingertip technique creates a feeling of being grounded and secure—and, it still keeps the hands apart.

Although the fingertip technique works well, I recently observed a few speakers using the traditional arms-hanging-loosely approach.  It looked good.  If they were feeling awkward, it didn’t show.  They appeared confident and poised.

It would not be a bad idea for a speaker to practice the traditional approach enough to have it as an option.  Conveniently-located furniture cannot always be counted on and letting the hands get together can lead to nervous or defensive body language.

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