Post from Transformation Tom- Do Something with Your Hands and Arms- Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” from the section “The Anxiety”

Posted by tomdowd - January 13, 2013 - News - No Comments

Do Something with Your Hands and Arms

Oh, those pesky hands and arms! Unless the speaker has some natural or rehearsed specific movements, many speakers’ hands and arms have been known to:

  1. flail around
  2. hide in pockets
  3. perch on hips
  4. hide behind backs
  5. clench into fists

This chapter is intentionally placed under the “Anxiety” category because nothing screams nerves more than people uncomfortable with their arms and hands. As formal as it may appear at first, always have your arms at your side unless they are in the middle of intentional actions or come up as a natural movement. The hands should also be unclenched; a clenched fist is a visible indicator of your anxiety. I was once given the advice that if nerves start to creep in, to rub your thumb against your palm in each hand; the subtle act of your thumb rubbing your palm allows your hands to remain at your side and still appears normal. Over time, you will become naturally looser. Additionally, hands touching—either fingers together or fingertips touching—or hands behind your back often give the audience an uptight feeling, especially if it is prior to you starting your presentation. Having your arms at your side should be like home base—your default position before your next gesture. This position took a little getting used to when I first started, since I tensed up my shoulders with the straight arms, but over time it truly becomes a comfortable launching point for your hands.


Thomas B. Dowd III’s books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival) and From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention) are available under “Products” on Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed:

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