“Hi and this question is “How do you use gestures in a presentation without them looking contrived?”
“Great question, by the way I’m Michael…. and I’m Helen… and we are The Presentation Maestro. And we are asked variations on a theme of this question so often, you know what do you DO with these things that are perfectly normal when you’re sitting down, but as soon as you stand up they become [gneaaaa].”
Well let’s answer first of all by looking at some things that are NOT useful that some people think are:
“For example Tony Blair who’s a very good speaker but he used this gesture and awful lot around the podium or something. Now, this isn’t a natural gesture. Would you come home at the end of the day and say “Hello Darling, what’s for dinner?” or in a pub would you say “Would you like a pint?” I mean you wouldn’t, would you? And, you’ll notice a lot of politicians, I have done for some time, using this gesture when they’re really trying to make an important point – the thumb is crossed over the rest of the fingers – and again this gesture isn’t useful is it? or it isn’t natural or useful. Do you want a gin and tonic?” – YES PLEASE – “Typical….Gin, she’ll do anything for a gin. It’s not natural. And the more natural you are, the better it can be.”
“Now, there are some certain gestures that are taught out there that have a reasoning behind them.” “They’re taught for a particular purpose but they can be really really difficult to use them in a natural way.” “They’re archetypal gestures – we’re going to show them to you now rather lightheartedly – a couple of them….”
“So here we go….. first one….. steady…. First one is ‘thinker’…. mmm I’m thinking about this. Next one is ‘distractor’ …..ooo search me I don’t know. This one is really serious because this one’s ‘leveller’ … mmm I really want you to take this in. Is there another one you’ve got? …. Oh yes… put your hand up if you came by London Transport to this workshop today.”
“Now they’re not wrong, but they are somewhat artificial, they are archetypal gestures. And as Helen mentioned earlier, they’re very difficult to bring off naturally. And after 30 years or actually combined 50 years of doing this we genuinely utterly truly believe that the more natural you are and the less artifice you’re using the more powerful, and the more engaging it is.” Yes.
“So how do you do that? Well very simply you keep your hands in a resting place round about your navel and then whenever you want to use them, just let them come apart and they do their own thing. Because each one of us, every human being on the planet, is hard wired in their brain in their neurology to use these things to communicate with. And there’s been stacks of research done into this that shows if you trap your hands, it actually gets in the way of articulating and free-flowing of thought. So just let them do what they do naturally, but let them rest in between when you’re not using them – real simple – and it works so easily. Hope you found that useful… see you on the next on.”