Hand Gestures and Head Movement for PUBLIC SPEAKING and PRESENTATIONS

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Here are 5 hand gestures and 5 head movements for public speaking and presentations. Use these 10 strategies to level up your public speaking skills and ace your next presentation or meeting!

When it comes to public speaking, nonverbal communication is very important. Today I’m sharing some do’s and don'ts for body language for public speaking. These strategies will help you in your next presentation, meeting, or public speaking engagement! 

Let’s get to it.


Let’s start with head movement.

1) Do Make Eye Contact

It’s important to make eye contact with the audience. Try to single in on specific people in the audience rather than just floating  your gaze above people’s heads. They will know the difference. Eye contact feels more personal and it establishes rapport and a personal connection.

2) Don’t Look Down

Every so often you might look down and that might not be a huge deal provided that you’re not constantly averting your gaze from the audience or listeners. If you have notes or note cards in your hand then try to be familiar enough with the content that you won’t be glued to your notes.

3) Be Mindful of Your Gaze

Be mindful of where you look. If you’re looking up at the ceiling, it could signal boredom and lack of interest. If you’re staring at the clock or your watch it shows that you want this meeting or presentation to be over asap. If your gaze is at the door, you signal a desire to escape. These might be obvious to you right now, but sometimes we automatically place our gaze in places that reveal our intentions, without even knowing it. 

4) Don’t Touch Your Face

Avoid the urge to touch your face. You might have stray hairs in your face or have something in your eye. Try not to fidget. Take care of the stray hairs ahead of your talk or meeting so that you can minimize the urge to take care of it during your talk. It goes without saying that you should touch or blow your nose and don’t touch your ears, eyes, or mouth either. Doing so is the opposite of professional, and can easily be avoided if you’re aware of it. The same applies to fidgeting with clothing. Wear something comfortable that you won’t be fixing during your talk. That would be distracting and prevent the listeners and audience from processing and absorbing what you’re sharing.

5) Do Smile

Smile the way you would smile. Some people have big beaming smiles, others have more reserved smiles. You do you. Smiling is great because it immediately sets you at ease and it also conveys a sense of calm confidence to the audience, which will boost their impression of you.

What about hand gestures for public speaking?

1) Do Use Outwardly Sweeping Gestures

This is important because it shows that you’re confident and not afraid to take up space with your body. It’s a way of asserting yourself and demonstrating authority. Keep your hands visible while you do this. If you’re talking about a fishing trip, demonstrate the size of the fish you caught with your hands. It’s as simple as that. 

2) Don’t Hide Your Hands

Keep your hands visible. Don’t stuff your hands in your pockets. Don’t clasp your hands and hide them behind your back. Don’t cross your arms and stuff your hands into your armpits. You need to keep your hands visible because that shows trust and confidence. If you’re leading a meeting, keep your hands on the table in front of you.

3) Do Let Your Hands Convey Emotion

Use your hands to express emotion. If you’re telling a heartwarming story, place your hand on your heart. If you’re expressing gratitude, put your hands together in thanks. Also leverage your facial expressions for this.

4) Do Show Confidence

Keep your hands out in front of you, where you can see them and where the audience can see them. Use the steeple when making a point. Open one palm and then the next to make point A and B. Use the visible outline starting from the top with points one two and three, as if to show an outline. Use gestures to make a point rather than overdoing it or under utilizing your hands. In other words, be deliberate about using your hands. Punctuate the important points rather than every single thing you have to say.

5) Don’t Play with Your Hands

Don’t wring your hands. Don’t play with your hands. This is distracting and it shows insecurity and lack of confidence. The audience wants to listen to someone who appears confident and credible. 


So those are 10 do’s and don'ts for nonverbal communication while public speaking. They can be applied to talks, meetings, or presentations. Leverage these strategies every time you are interfacing with your audience because they will help you get your message across more smoothly and effectively. Be sure to practice these techniques and familiarize yourself with them so that when you’re ready to use them they’ll be automatic to you.

Feel free to record yourself practicing these nonverbal techniques so that you can see how you are implementing them. Review the video footage with a kind yet critical eye so that you can level up at your next public speaking venture!


Alright Explearners that’s it from me today. If you liked this video be sure to give it a big thumbs up. Can you think of any other hand gestures and head movements that convey confidence in public speaking? Share that with the Explearning community in the comments down below. And if you want to help our channel continue to grow, share this lesson and our channel with anyone who wants to improve their communication skills and social skills. I’ll see you in the next one!

Happy Explearning :)