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June 7, 2013

What Do I Do With My Arms in a Presentation?

Who are some of the public speakers or presenters you like the best? Well, let's turn that around - who do you not like, or who puts you to sleep?  

Many of us remember our teachers or college professors. It's a hard job standing up in front of large groups of young people everyday, who may not want to be there, and keep them interested! I can guess that one of the reasons the teacher or professor put you to sleep is because he was boring! If I asked you to describe "boring" in detail, what would you say? What makes a public speaker boring?  

In this case, let's specifically look at someone's non-verbal behavior. The presenter can have the best written speech, have spoken eloquently and even given plenty of visual aids, but what if that person did any of the following:
Use your arms to add interest and draw  your listeners into your message.
Use your arms to add interest and draw
 your listeners into your message.

  • Stood stiff as a board
  • Never moved their arms
  • Did not walk around
  • Moved around too much
  • Was jumpy or jittery

While a lack of movement can cause us to feel sleepy or loose interest, too much movement can be distracting or irritating. A balance between the two is ideal.

Take note that it does take practice. I'd suggest practicing presentations in front of peers or with a video camera handy to get good feedback and adjust accordingly. While analyzing your performance, ask yourself, 

  • Do I look open or closed to the audience?
  • Do I look as if I am interested to be there?
  • Will the audience find me interesting or boring?
  • Do I have the traits of interesting speakers or boring speakers?
  • What are my strengths? How will I overcome my challenges?

There are natural ways to use your arms in a presentation, as shown in the video below. (This video is not made by Jennifer Kumar or Authentic Journeys.) 

This second video showcases a speaker I think uses his arms effectively in a presentation. Please watch the video and share your thoughts in the comments critiquing his arm movements.*

(*This video is not property of Authentic Journeys, nor does Authentic Journeys endorse anything being sold in this video. The video is displayed for the sole purpose of analyzing presentation techniques.)

Thank you for spending time on this blog.Thank you for spending time on this blog. Jennifer Kumar is a corporate communication coach for IT professionals working with Americans based in Kochi, India. Feel free to contact her for more information about individual and small group coaching sessions today.

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We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.