Do NOT Make These 3 Mistakes with Your Hand Gestures on Stage #89

One of the easiest ways to improve your presentation skills has nothing to do with the words you say and everything to do with the gestures you make.

Many speakers overlook the importance of hand gestures during their presentations, so today let’s walk through three of the most common mistakes presenters make with their hand gestures.

Then I’ll share five tips on using hand gestures to enhance your presentation.  

Ready, set, go! 

3 Mistakes Speakers Make with Their Hand Gestures  

Mistake #1: The Fig Leaf 

You know what I’m talking about: standing with your hands down in front of you, covering your lower abdomen.

It’s almost like you’re hiding something or about to vomit.

We do this “fig leaf” gesture because we’re nervous or shy.

But guess what?

This closed-off stance creates a gap between you and your audience.

Instead of closing yourself off, try to keep your hands open and relaxed, right by your side.

This openness signals confidence and helps you connect with your audience better. 

Mistake #2: The Reverse Fig Leaf 

The reverse fig leaf is when you stand with your hands clasped behind your back, almost like you’re standing at attention in the military.

While this might feel safer than the fig leaf, it’s overly formal and makes you seem stiff.

Again, this posture comes from nerves.

If you’re prone to the reverse fig leaf, try letting your hands move naturally.

Use them to emphasize your points and bring your words to life. 

Mistake #3: The Robot 

The third mistake is what I call the robot.

This is when you stand with your hands rigidly at your sides, looking like a stiff, mechanical figure.

It’s as if you’re saying, “Greetings, earthlings. I have data to give to you.”

That’s not what we want!

To avoid the robot, practice using your hands to express yourself.

Move them as you speak to add energy and dynamism to your presentation. 

Now that we’ve covered what not to do, let’s talk about five ways to use your gestures effectively. 

5 Ways to Use Gestures to Improve Your Presentation  

(Watch the video above this article for examples of these gestures.) 

Pro Tip #1: Use Gestures to Create a Timeline 

Use your hands to lay out a timeline.

The past is always to your right (the audience’s left).

So if you’re talking about something that happened years ago, gesture to the right.

For future ambitions and goals, gesture to the left.

This anchors your audience’s understanding of time. 

Pro Tip #2: Use Gestures Spatially 

Think of your stage as a hologram.

Use your hands to create spatial relationships.

For example, if you’re describing moving from a small house to a big dream home, show the size difference with your hands.

This makes your story more vivid and engaging.  

Pro Tip #3: Demonstrate Magnitude with Gestures 

Show how big or small something is with your hands.

Saying something is “huge” while spreading your arms wide makes a much bigger impact.

If something is “tiny,” pinch your fingers together.

These gestures help your audience visualize and remember your points better. 

Pro Tip #4: Use Directional Gestures 

Use your hands to show direction.

For example, if a rocket “shot up,” mimic the upward motion with your hand.

This adds a visual element to your story, making it more engaging.

Whether you’re describing going up a rollercoaster or getting lost, use your hands to emphasize the movement. 

Pro Tip #5: Gestures for Relational Comparisons 

When comparing two things, use your hands to show their relationship.

For example, if you’re talking about two groups, place one in each hand and show how they interact.

This spatial representation makes it easier for your audience to understand and remember your points. 

There you have it: the three most common hand gesture mistakes and five ways to use your hands to make your presentation more engaging.  

If you want to become a better speaker and maybe even get paid to speak, my team and I at Brand Builders Group would love to offer you a free 1-1 Brand Strategy Call.

Does that interest you? If so, schedule your call so we can talk soon!  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Rory On Social

Get Rory’s “High Earner Habits” training for FREE when you sign up to receive his weekly blog updates via email.

Share via
Copy link