“With 27 bones (each), our hands are very expressive parts of our bodies. So many bones afford our hands lots of abilities including countless gestures. When speaking in public, these gestures reflect our thinking and become a sort of parallel text to our spoken words. This means that aware and precise movements help us organise our thought process and our audiences to understand us better. On the contrary, fuzzy hands that move too much simply function as noise or smoke curtains between speaker and listener.
So what to do with your hands when you are pitching your startup to a group of investors, colleagues, or anyone who will listen? Here are some useful guidelines to make your hand gestures work for you:
Openness. At the beginning of any presentation, it is especially important to show your hands as a sign of honesty. As we saw in post #1 on Posture, hiding our hands triggers our ancient danger alarm while showing them relaxes our listeners.
Awareness. As a practice, try doing your whole pitch without moving your hands at all. Think of it as the training that will help you develop the skill of clarity. Once you have done it without hands you will become a lot more aware of what your hands do.
Economy. Next, run through your pitch using your hands to emphasise only ONE thing. This should be the most important line of your pitch, and you will do a hand gesture to highlight its importance. This will show you what really matters in your pitch and you can continue to practice adding hand gestures only to the moments that require them.
Home. So what to do the rest of the time? Define a few “home” gestures. These are positions where you can leave your hands comfortably steady. It could be by your sides, holding in front of the chest, etc. An easy way to figure out which gestures are naturally “home” for you is to film yourself. Speak for 2 minutes about anything you feel passionate about. Your favourite hobby is usually a good place to start. Then have a look, with the volume off, looking for the positions where your hands spent most of the time. You may also just talk to a friend and ask them to feedback what they saw.
Appropriateness. Always adapt to the space you have or don't have. You should indulge in larger gestures when speaking to a larger audience, and keep the whole thing smaller when you are talking to just a few people.
Practicing your pitch for clarity of gesture is a great way to learn your text. Once the text becomes second nature and you have a good idea of what you are doing with your hands, you are ready to be the host of your pitch.
Stay tuned for our next post in the series: #4 Hosting/ Owning the Room."
Based in and around London and interested in upgrading your Pitching Skills?
Members of the Startacus community of startups, entrepreneurs, and self-starters can get a 20% discount on a 3 x 60 minute session package care of Metaspeech. This would normally cost £450 but Startacus members can get it for £360. Click Metaspeech for all the details.
To recap, you may also want to read Mariana’s previous fab post on: