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Loosen up. Let your hands gesture naturally during your presentation.
Research has shown that presenters are judged as more effective and competent when they make hand gestures compared with when they keep their hands still.
While gesturing, be especially aware of how you use your palms. In his TEDx talk, Body Language, the power is in the palm of your hands, Allan Pease uses humor, stories, case studies, and audience interaction to deliver a compelling case for the importance of using your palms wisely when speaking. There are more connections between your brain and the palm of your hands than any other body part, according to Pease. So clearly, the palms have evolved as an important part of human brains, Pease concludes.
Pease demonstrates how the palm orientation of a speaker can transmit a signal that appeals to your ancient brain. Depending on which signal is transmitted, a speaker can either gain the trust and attention of the audience, or be rejected by the audience, according to Pease. In one of the case studies mentioned by Pease, palm orientation was tested; the study concluded the palm up speaker had up to 40% more retention of the deal than the palm down speaker.
Speaking with your palms up will make you more likable and persuasive. If you speak with your palms down, you will be perceived as threatening and controlling. To drive this message home, Pease demonstrates the Nazi salute. The palms down gesture seems aggressive. Pease then flips the salute from palms down to a palms up gesture. The audience laughs because the revised salute is comical. Pease was transformed from intimidating to lovable.
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