Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

The power of using your hands to connect with your audience.

Recently in a workshop, I saw a heart-warming demonstration of how your hands can transform the way your audience perceives you.

It went like this. One of the trainees told us that when she spoke to her audiences, she got feedback that she came across as a "bossy cow". When she spoke in front of us, she looked poised and confident, but she also looked dictatorial and aloof. Her upper back was super straight, her torso was still and her hands were together.

After some experimentation, we found a simple solution. I asked her not only to separate her hands, but also to gesture with them. Specifically, I asked her to make her hands move slightly towards some of the individuals she looked at, with fingers bent to soften the gesture.

The result was a dramatic change. The "bossy cow" was gone. Her rigid posture had softened. The impressed audience said that her eyes had warmed, that she seemed more interested in them, and - here's the really interesting part - the change had not cost her any personal authority.

She was clearly pleased with the change.

The wider significance? If we want to connect with our audiences, we must talk with our whole body - not just with our head and lips.

Enjoy your speaking.


About Michael Brown

michael semiformal 460x300

Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

Interested in training in presentation skills?

We can help your presenters engage their audiences – whether they are speaking at major conferences, presenting to the community or colleagues, or speaking up at a meeting.

Learn more

Interested in training in media skills?

Our experienced media trainers can show your spokespeople how to work with the media so that everyone benefits.

Learn more