Power Presentations Tip #48: Show Your Hands

Show your hands to build more trust

To instil more trust in your audience let them see your hands.

Many speakers don't know what to do with their hands. They feel self conscious about their hands and might fidget with them or hide them. Both of those actions can hurt your effectiveness when presenting.

It's believed that because your hands are at the end of your arms they might display the real message that you can't control. Often this is true. When we can see your hands we will notice whether they support or detract from your message.

You might move your hands while speaking - which can help to grab attention, describe a point and convey passion - as long as the movement appears to be natural. Awkward or unusual hand movements can be distracting or disturbing.

Don't play with markers, pens, pointers, buttons, your hair, or your fingers.

As a speaker you don't want your audience concentrating on watching your hands so intensely that they stop listening to what you are saying. You also don't want them wondering what could be in your hidden hands. When we can see your hands we trust you more because we know that hidden hands could be hiding a threat. Hidden hands could hold a weapon. In the olden days a hand extended was a sign of friendship because it revealed that you were not holding a weapon.

Keep your hands out of your pockets and in front of your body most of the time while speaking. If you want to show a causal stance then you might place one of your hands in a pocket. But don't keep it there for long. And don't hide it deep in your pocket. Keep your thumb out of the pocket as a display of no threats.

When you display your hands show them palm out. A fist would appear to be threatening. Hands displayed with knuckles out could look like a fist.

Bonus tip: .If you want to build more trust when sitting at a table keep your hands on top of the table.

To cultivate more trust from your listeners display your open hands.

George Torok
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Researching Your Presentation

Get your facts straight
Don’t stand there saying, “I think so” or “I’m not sure.” Don’t lie and pretend to know something you do not. So spend time collecting and confirming your information. Too many public speakers are quick to present their opinions without providing clear substance. Avoid that trap.

Be careful of presenting hearsay as evidence – unless you preface it as that. You might interview customers for their comments or check with the front lines for their unofficial feedback. That is ok – but present it honestly. Do a quick search on one or a few of the Internet search engines to find some new insights on the topic of your presentation. These Internet ‘facts’ might not be confirmable so present them as what you found – ‘Stuff from the Internet’.

Test for relevance
Review your speech for relevance to your audience. After every statement that you plan to make ask yourself, “So what?” Because that is what your audience will be asking. If you cannot answer this question clearly and succinctly – then rework it or remove it from your speech. What do you want them thinking, “Yeah right on!” or “So what?”

Remembering your speech
The best public speakers do not memorize their presentation. Instead know your topic and the issues. Then make notes for yourself. But don’t read your speech. That is so boring. Instead write key words that remind you of your messages. Write your speech notes on index cards. That is much easier to handle instead of fumbling with a sheet of paper.

Rehearsing your presentation
Rehearse your speech on your feet at least three times. It is okay to rehearse parts of it in your car or sitting at your desk. But because you will deliver in on your feet – you rehearse the speech on your feet. It feels different when you speak on your feet. Get used to the feel of delivering your presentation. The best way to reinforce a set of skills is by repeating the pattern the way you plan to deliver. Golfers and musicians rehearse their patterns so the skills of the big day are natural to them.

The fear of public speaking
Studies show that our number one fear is the fear of public speaking. Hard to believe but it is more prevalent than the fear of death. If you have a fear of public speaking or feel some anxiety you are not alone. Even great speakers like Churchill experienced this fear. But he worked on his delivery skills so he could deliver even when he was nervous. I am a professional speaker who has spoken to audiences all over North America yet I also experience speech anxiety. The fear of public speaking might be with you forever. But your audience does not need to know.

Overcoming the fear of public speaking
In most cases the symptoms of the fear are not noticeable to your audience. You might feel terrified but your audience doesn’t know. There are several ways to get past speech anxiety. Focus on the success of your presentation. Before you step up to speak take a couple of slow deep breaths. Speak slowly. Don’t let it run away from you.

George Torok

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The President's Speech: George W

George W does his best to butcher his presentations.

George Torok
Presentation Skills Trainer
Executive Speech Coach

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What is the best way to rehearse your presentation?

Question about presentation skills

Presentation Skills Expert:

Two parts to this answer:

1. Rehearse your presentation on your feet at least three times as close to the manner in which you will deliver it as possible.

2. Although you might practise your presentation from start to finish - you should also practise it in modules. This helps train your brain to recover when you get lost or to cut something out to save time. And practise your opening and close more than the other parts so you can deliver these important parts strong.

George Torok
Presentation Skills Expert

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Poll on What you remembered about the last speaker

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Seven steps to more compelling presentations

Investment Executive

Ensure your that audience is engaged and understands the ideas you are putting forward
Tuesday, February 15, 2011, By Fiona Collie

An engaging seminar presentation can be a powerful tool for building relationships with clients and prospects.

A successful presentation needs more than just great information, says Lisa Braithwaite, a public-speaking coach in Santa Barbara, Calif. “People want to relate to you,” she says. “They want to be able to trust you and they want to be able to have a relationship with you.”

To gain that trust and build relationships, follow these public-speaking tips:

1. Speak upMake sure you’re speaking at the right volume.

Most people speak too softly when they’re presenting, says George Torok, owner of speechcoachforexecutives.com in Burlington, Ont. Project your voice so you can be heard by the entire group. Just be careful not to yell.

2. Take your time

Slow down and give the audience time to hear your words.

Remember, the audience doesn’t know your speech the way you do. Give them time to absorb the information and follow your presentation.

Says Torok: “Your listeners have to hear the words, digest the words and think about them.”

3. Take breaks

Pause occasionally to emphasize important points. Pausing before and after you say something significant can serve to underline that point’s importance, Torok says. “The effect is like putting air quotes around [the phrase].”

Pausing also makes you appear confident. Stand quiet in front of the audience before you start, Torok says. Pausing for eight seconds before you begin will compel audience members to focus their attention on you.

Read the rest of Seven Steps to More Compelling Presentations

George Torok

Speech Coach For Executives

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What are active listening skills?

Active listening is a powerful communication skill.

I think that you might be looking for some techniques that enhance that skill. If we were talking I would clarify that with you. That's one example of a active listening technique.

Here are a few more techniques to active listening:

  • Look directly at the person who is talking.
  • Smile.
  • Appear relaxed - not impatient.
  • Nod your head occasionaly - to show understanding - not necessarily agreement.
  • Repeat some key words.
  • Ask a question about a point.
This is a question that I received.

Do you have more questions about presentation and communication skills? Ask me.

George Torok

The Speech Coach for Executives

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