Where do you put your hands?

  • SumoMe

This is a serious question! When in front of a group of people you need to appear relaxed and confident in order to gain their trust.  Placing them on the podium in front of you is not an option if you want to keep your group engaged.  I’m guilty of one hand stuck in the pocket and the other gesturing wildly, too.  I’m not proud of it but it’s something that we all have to get past in our own way.  I was lucky enough to attend a session on facilitation and this topic came up.


Based on my google search (left) this is a little more relevant when you’re in, er, close proximity to another person, but this plays largely into non-verbal communication.


1. Hold something.  Right or wrong, I’ve always been a big proponent holding something in one hand, a clipboard, a dry erase marker, etc.  To me is seems like the bigger issue is what do you do with one hand, because you’ve always got a plan for the other.  I’ve always liked the clipboard because it reminds me of my high school coach, a truly great man, but it’s another thing to hide behind. This goes a long way to take the anxiety out of it for you, the presenter, but this can still lead to distracting behaviour.  “Why is he pointing at me with a clipboard?”  So real pro’s need to be prepared for everything, even if it’s not having something to hold.

2. Butterfly push-ups?  I just heard this phrase and it’s a weird one. It refers to bending your arms at the elbow and bringing the tips of your fingers together in front of you at elbow level or a touch above.  After a little while, however, you look a bit like you’re trying to share your divine wisdom with your flock.  I must say, this method allows you to transition very smoothly from a resting position, to a gesture, and then back.again.

3. At your sides.  You feel a bit naked, and vulnerable.  After trying this it makes sense why we’re so comfortable behind a podium or a clipboard or with our arms crossed.  These all seem like defensive actions, in a effort to protect ourselves. When I tried this for the first time it was the weirdest thing going. Like sitting in a quiet room with another person and not saying anything.  But, after a little while it’s not so bad.

These are just a couple of thoughts on what to do with your hands but I’m always open to suggestion. (wink).

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