When You Are Speaking, Are Your Hands Contradicting You?

Be aware of any habits or automatic gestures that might detract from your message.

It is not only what you say that matters, it is also how you say itwhat your body language conveys. Does your delivery detract from your message? When rehearsing your presentation, your must develop a strategy for eye contact and movement that supports your message.  Know the difference between purposeful movement and involuntary expressions of nervous energy. Be aware of any habits or automatic gestures that might distract or confuse your listeners. My friend Sims Wyeth, author of The Essentials of Persuasive Public Speaking, has observed this awkward habit in some speakers and wisely reminds us all to pay attention to our body language:

Avoid Squirrel Paws
by Sims Wyeth

My grandmother used to take me to the Central Park Zoo in New York to feed peanuts to squirrels.

The squirrels were tame, and stood on their hind legs begging with their front paws hanging in front of their chests.

The Essentials of Persuasive Public Speaking Sims WyethI see speakers with squirrel paws—limp-wristed hands devoid of life—and no matter how bright the speaker, I am not impressed.

A squirrel-paw speaker doesn’t look like a person who can get anything done.  Pump energy and life into your hands to demonstrate your bias for action.

Sims Wyeth is the president of Sims Wyeth & Co., an executive development firm in Montclair, NJ devoted to the art and science of speaking persuasively.

Thank you Sims!

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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.