How to use intentional movement and gestures to improve your presentations
We’ve all been to presentations where the nervous presenter stood rooted in one spot or paced back and forth. I suspect we’ve also been to presentations where the presenter had an annoying habit – rattling their keys in their hands or flipping their hair out of their eyes.
If you want your informative presentations to be memorable and engaging, it is critical that you use intentional movement or gestures.
Three reasons to use movement and gestures intentionally:
- No movement is boring: People who stand rooted in one spot do not engage their audience. The audience may be bored and find something else to hold their interest. If the audience can sense the presenter’s nervousness, they will start worrying about how the presenter is doing rather than focusing on the important information the presenter is sharing.
- Random movement is distracting: People who use random, often unconscious movement, may find that they are distracting their audience. The audience starts focusing on how often they flick their hair or wondering about how many coins are in the hands. Keeping your hands still is ideal, unless you are moving intentionally to emphasize or make a point.
- Intentional movement and gestures can enhance your presentation: People who move or gesture intentionally can really emphasize the important points in their presentation. If you are talking about a trip, you can move across the stage. If you are talking about filling something up, you can use your hands to show that. Using intentional movement or gestures selectively can really enhance the memorability and engagement of a presentation.
It’s great to know that intentional movement and gestures are important but how do you do that?
- Review your presentation to determine where movement or gestures fit with the content of what you are saying. Once you have determined the content of your presentation, you can figure out where it would be appropriate to include movement or gestures. Does the presentation include the idea of moving in some way? Are there things you are measuring? Content like that can lead to great opportunities to add intentional movements and gestures.
- Figure out the best movement or gesture to use to help make your point. Once you figured out where movement or gestures might go, the next step is to figure out what movement or gestures to use. Perhaps you want to walk across the stage as I did in my speech for the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 2021. I walked to show me moving from the West Coast to Toronto and back again. Perhaps you want to use gestures. In my free monthly webinars, I use the image of a wooden grocery box. I use my hands to show the grocery box being filled up with junk food (the how you are presenting) and with the good food (the important information you are there to share) just rolling away.
- Practice your presentation using the movements or gestures you worked out. Once you have figured out where appropriate places are for movement and gestures and you’ve figured out the movement or gestures to use, make sure you practice using those movements or gestures. As you practice, you can refine them to make your movements and gestures even more impactful.
When your next presentation is coming up, remember to see if you are able to use movement or gestures to enhance your presentation.
Want to know about other tools you could use to improve your presentations?
Having clients do much better presentations, is something I help with.
If you are interested in seeing how I use intentional gestures and learning how to transform your presentations, sign up for my free 30-minute Webinars. I host two each month. Find more information and sign up for my Monday webinar here: https://monday-pm-webinars.eventbrite.com and for my Thursday webinar here: https://thursday-am-webinars.eventbrite.com.