I have just returned from an amazing 3 day conference in London. The Women’s Economic Forum, the WEF. It was an extraordinary event with people coming from more than 25 countries, representing small and large organisations and groups. There were many great speakers with powerful messages and heartfelt stories, sharing personal and universal experiences.
During the 3 days, I approached several speakers to offer feedback on their presentations. And, let’s face it, everybody loves to get the good vibrations of feedback! There were several questions asked about nerves and confidence, but after that, the number one question was:
Where do I put my hands when I speak?
I did notice a fair amount of awkward hand movements, from the white knuckle syndrome of squeezing your hands so tight in a prayer position, to the rolling of fingers round each other, OMG what am I doing here pose!
The guys have a solution, they just tuck their hands in their pockets. Fashion designers have created comfortable and acceptable hiding places for the male hand.
As for the ladies, we have no such luxury, and hallelujah, because our hands speak volumes. From sign language to subtle gestures, the hands carry a thousand messages. It is almost our duty to blend them into our conversations and talks.
I have read many articles and seen a few videos on this topic and there is some contradictory stuff out there. Folding arms means this, hands behind your back means that. The Do’s and Don’ts of hand language are truly misleading.
So, how do you get that balance between being expressive and charismatic with your hands and not domineering or hostile?
How do you find the balance between having passive and floppy arms or creating vibrant definition and depth with your digital beauties…your hands and fingers?
Be natural, be observant and watch and learn how the people around you, display expression and emotion with their ‘pretty pinkies’. Become an eagle eye and observe, perceive, detect and digest all the extraordinary lingual interpretive abilities of our gorgeous 10 digits.
And, did you know?
The muscles which power the fingers are strong – strong enough for some people to climb vertical surfaces supporting their entire weight at times by a few fingertips.
Just imagine the force behind that? It has to be a powerful addition to your already super speaking skills? So take yourself out of your house and your comfort zones and step into a busy airport or shopping street and watch how hands really do the talking. Please be aware and double check the meaning before using them yourself!
Here is a quick list of hand gestures which have more than one meaning.
The language of hands, an excellent way to emphasise and add expression to your speech. So, let your hands and fingers do some talking. Watch and observe how speakers, dancers and singers enhance their expression with clever, subtle and passionate use of hands and fingers. Discover your unique flair for non verbal communication.
Step Up & Stand Out awaits your comments!
Such a beautiful topic, thank you Georgia. And I agree. It’s so important to get it right. A nervous hand is like a stutter…
First and constant thing I learned in my contemporary dancing experience (years ago but it still sticks with me), was the pointing of fingers in powerful directions (often on a diagonal line across the stage) together with the head and eyes were so important in leading the audiences attention and thus, the narrative. This was only second to the warm up exercises!
Hands with plans.
Oh, I love that.. Hands with Plans! Thanks Anna!
A good subject to tackle, Georgia! I don’t know about anyone else…but I love watching ‘Continental’ people who express themselves – usually – so volubly with their hands as well as their voices. The passion in their digits and arms accentuates their vocal messages. HOWEVER, if overdone, they look like they’re imitating windmills or erratic aeroplanes… So it’s definitely a habit to study and get right when addressing a crowd, as pointed out!
Windmills and erratic planes…Yes, I have seen that too….an art to study. Thanks Joy.
I love your attention to details. Yes, get out from the comfort zone of our pockets. Our dexterous hand gestures can be more eloquent and honest than our words but the authentic voice of words is still necessary. Definitely worth to extend our vocabulary with loquacious hand movements.
In handwriting the dancing hand creates visual ornaments of letters on paper and that also give information about the underlying truth reality of the performer.
Oh! My what a flow of beautiful words…I can just imagine how your hands move!