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How to Use Hand Gestures When Speaking

Many of us use gestures when speaking, for some this might not be as noticeable while others might overuse them. When used correctly, hand movements can benefit you greatly and show you in a better light. Still, when you use your hands to emphasize a point, it’s important to be aware that some might have a different meaning in various cultures.

We at 5-Minute Crafts chose the most common and easy-to-remember hand gestures that will make you look more charismatic and more confident at your next gathering.

Using your hands properly

Stay in the box: It might be a good idea to think outside the box when you use your hands while speaking, but you should always stay inside the box. The size of the box starts at the top of your chest and goes to the bottom of your waist. If you go outside these lines, it might be considered and seen as out-of-control and distracting.

There is a type of spectrum that you should stick to so that you are using ideal hand gestures when talking.

❗️ Stiff — this is the point where you rarely use your hands, and it’s not recommended.

✅ Expressive — this is when you use your hands to express yourself in the right way.

❗️ Jazz hands — this is when you go outside the box and might appear distracting.

1. I am not hiding anything.

Show that you are honest and open by putting your hands forward with the palms facing up at a 45-degree angle. It’s a way to say that you are laying everything on the table.

Alternate: If you position your hands with the palms facing upward and fingers spread, it will mean that you need something.

2. Reject someone’s idea.

The handgun steeple means positioning your hands right under your chin, interlacing your fingers while your index fingers are placed on your mouth, touching each other.

This gesture should be used to reject someone’s idea, but harshly. That’s why it’s better to use it when you truly mean business, especially if you find yourself in a challenging position, like in an “interrogation” situation.

Don’t use it if you want to create a team-friendly environment.

3. Show that you know someone.

Pointing at a stranger might seem rude, but doing so during a performance, party, speech, or in a crowd will give just the opposite signal. It might indicate that you are popular among other people because you are pointing at them, which means you know them.

For example, if you are talking to someone and you want to exit the conversation smoothly, point at someone in the way back of the room, continue with an eyebrow flash, and pretend like you know the person you are pointing at. Then move away from the person you are talking to. It gives the illusion that you know someone, and it even might look like you are more popular than they thought.

4. Use the sand pinch gesture to make a point.

The sand pinch gesture is pretty easy to perform and use. All you need to do is to bring the tips of your thumb and index finger together as if you were pinching grains of sand. The palm should be facing downward.

You can use this one when you want to explain something important or want to make a point. It could make you look like a focused, goal-oriented, and thoughtful individual. Plus, it could help you make your statement easier to remember for your audience.

5. Show that you are anticipating something.

Hand rubbing is a way to express anticipation, excitement, or that you think that something is about to happen. Plus, it’s very easy to do. Bring your palms together in front of you and start rubbing them.

This is a great gesture to use when you’re in a business situation and you want to tell others something like, “It’s time to give me the goods!”

Remember that the speed in which you rub your hands matters:

  • Fast rub: it means that you are expecting the results to benefit you.
  • Slow rub: it might mean that you are sneaky or devious, and the results will benefit others and not you.

6. Look more confident in a conversation.

Steepled fingers is done just by putting the tips of your fingers together. Others could see it as a wise gesture and it can show that you are a confident person. It could also show that you have things in order.

❗️ While it’s a great gesture, it shouldn’t be overused, as many people are starting to do it.

7. Show numbers with your hands.

Show numbers with your fingers when you are saying them out loud. This numerical gesture makes numbers easier to remember. Showing off the numbers also gives a good vibe to your body language, and it works as a nonverbal anchor to your conversation.

8. Point out important info.

Pointing your finger and moving it back and forth should be used with caution. It’s not always a good idea to point at someone. Still, there are some cases when you can use it and make a point and get someone’s attention.

A few examples of when you can use this gesture:

  • “I just remembered something very important.”
  • “Let me tell you this.”
  • “This is important, so listen.”

Do you know of a gesture that can help during a formal or informal conversation?

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