Use Your Hand Gestures to Your Advantage

In competitive situations we’re always looking for something to give us an advantage over our competition. We sometimes go to great lengths to find any tiny competitive “edge.” What if the secret to our success was, literally, in our hands?

Most often we’re not consciously aware of the effect of gestures. We instinctively perceive the effect of gestures on speakers. We see it every day, everywhere — from politicians, pastors and seasoned public speakers. But oftentimes we don’t know how to use our own hands effectively to boost our chances of success.

Our hand gestures help make a good impression whether we are interviewing for a job or pitching an idea for our boss. They can give added emphasis on our position, punctuate our point of view, or add pizzazz to our pitch in such ways that people will be motivated to say “yes.”

There’s even science to back up this claim: Professor Joep Cornelissen at Erasmus University in Rotterdam undertook an Try out different gestures to see how they workVideo-recorded pitches for investors. Video clips that included frequent hand gestures had a 12-percent higher chance of attracting investors.

In this age of videoconferencing where only our heads and torsos are displayed on the screen we can engage with our audience more effectively by allowing our hands to communicate our message.

Below are just some of the many gestures you could use to boost your success chances.

1. You can show confidence by adding a pinch salt.

One gesture that can increase your chances of speaking is “the pinch of salt.” To make this gesture, hold your fist in front of you so you are looking down at the thumb side of your hand. Relax your top finger and your thumb and bring the tips of these fingers together as if they’re delicately holding a pinch of salt. Your rest of fingers should be kept relaxed and curled. To affirm key words, make this gesture when you speak.

For politicians, this is a very common gesture. Barack Obama used the gesture 93 more times in his inaugural speech. It was a sign of confidence and belief in Obama’s plans for the presidency.

2. To invite others to join, open your palm.

Open palm gestures communicate a willingness to be connected. Imagine that you’re a team leader assigning a new project in a meeting and your team members are listening intently. As you wrap up, opening your palms will indicate that you’d like feedback on what you just shared.  

Using an open palm gesture conveys your openness to your audience’s response, and also gives what you’re saying an emotional dimension of your wish to invite their involvement.

3. You can add animations to your gestures.

You can also use animated gestures to emphasize your points. When you wish to make a strong point, allow your hands to literally “draw” the picture. A small gap between your fingers can be used to illustrate a concept. You can indicate steady growth by bringing your hands apart slowing — or show rapid expansion by moving them apart quickly.

Making these illustrative gestures helps an audience “see” the points you’re making and become more convinced by what you’re saying through your delivery. 

You can increase the chances of a positive presentation by using hand gestures. This will connect you with your listener and drive home your points.

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