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What to Do with Your Hands when Making a Speech

Learn what to do with your hands when you make a speech from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking video.


One of the first things people ask me about public speaking is," T.J., what do I do with my hands when I'm giving a speech?" It's as if they no longer have control. It's like these things have been stapled to their shoulders, and they no longer have control.

Do with your hands what you do all day long with your hands. When you're speaking you move your hands. It's that simple. All human beings are wired that way.

It's a huge, huge myth that somehow it's wrong to move your hands, or that somehow professional speakers are supposed to grab the lectern, or do this, or put the hand in a pocket. That's all a bunch of nonsense. What you want to do with your hands is move them in a natural, normal way.

I can tell you I have secretly videotaped people in my public speaking classes for years. All human beings, not just ones from Italy, or just ones from certain continents or countries, move their hands when they speak.

In theory, it's possible to be moving your hands, and gesturing so wildly that you're distracting, in theory, but all I can tell you is I have trained tens of thousands of clients from six continents for nearly 30 years. I have never yet had a client who moved, and gestured way too much.

Yet every week, sometimes every day in a week, I have people do this, "Hi, I'm very happy and relaxed, and comfortable to be here today," or something like this, or this, and they look scared, and stiff, and uncomfortable.

You don't want people focusing on looking uncomfortable. You want them focused on your message, and you want them in their gut, to have the impression that you're comfortable, relaxed, and authoritative.

No one's going to come up to you after a speech, and say, "Wow I really liked the way you moved your hands in that speech." It's not going to be something that they process at the intellectual level, but at the gut level they will perceive you as more comfortable, confident, and relaxed, simply by you moving your hands.

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