One of the training sessions I attended last Friday was called Five Secrets: The Proven Neuroscience Behind Persuading Voters, led by Stephanie Dreyer and Brandon Fureigh. I’ve never thought much about my hand gesturing when I am speaking to groups, as long as I don’t have arms flying in all directions. But, appearance matters and should be treated with the same care that you give to your presentation content.
The reality is, as the speakers underscored (and Joel Silberman corroborated in his Presence and Authenticity: The Key to Being a Media Star training session), people will assume you are out of control, nervous or something worse, if your hands get out of the zone. The zone? Ah, yes, the imaginary box between your shoulders and your waist. Don’t let your hands go above or below those borders when you are speaking.
What can you do with your hands to communicate your message in a controlled fashion? When you make big points, pretend like you are holding a big beach ball. If you are making a mid-sized point, hold an imaginary basketball.
When you are standing in front of a crowd, waiting to speak, make one hand into a fist and hold the other hand over it. The fist represents strength and the hand covering it represents caring. Ah, the subtlety of it all.
Dreyer covered tone of voice as well. She recommends that you speak in a low register (even if you are female) to show you are in control of your message and are relaxed. Slow down when you get to a very big point. When you speak quickly, it conveys that it is not important enough to share slowly.
We all speak publicly all the time. You don’t have to have a roster of conference speaking engagements to use these tips. We are sharing ideas with co-workers every day, going to meetings with coalition partners. These ideas will work for you in any of these situations. It’s summer, so pass that imaginary beach ball!
If you think you missed out (yes, you did), check out the Netroots Nation website. A number of sessions were recorded. Next year’s Netroots Nation conference is July 17-20 in Detroit. Hope to see you there!