Polishing Performance Ep01: Gestures and Distractions

You can either be very intentional and deliberate with your body movements to strengthen your talk, or you can flail around and distract the audience. You choose.


  • Body Awareness

    Make your movements deliberate and gestures meaningful. This will strengthen your talk.

  • Audience Connection

    Reach out, break that fourth wall and connect with your audience. It matters.

  • Video Feedback

    You don't know how you look until you can see how you look! Take time to video yourself.

You're your own best coach, so get yourself in front of a camera and watch what you're actually doing!Kymberlee

Kymberlee: When I work with my clients on performance, usually we've written out their talk, they have that all memorized on the content side and now we're moving into performance. One of the questions I get asked is, "What do I do with my body?"

On stage people often don't think about this, but what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to just kind of stand there with hands on the hips or hand on one hip or hand in the pocket to kind of look cool? What do we do with our body?

Alan Irwin: Right, I'm a big proponent of deliberate movement. You want your gestures to look like they have meaning, like they are part of the talk. I literally choreograph through a piece. I will write out that if I'm doing a list, I want to be pointing out onto my fingers. If I want to make a connection to the audience, I will reach out to them when I want to draw them in. Those elements are deliberate movements, so they mean a lot more than random things that are occurring. That's what I'm trying to avoid: those random or constantly repetitive movements that have no meaning in the context of this talk.

Kymberlee: When you are going to do movements, commit to those movements. If you're going to increase strength you want to be very deliberate. If you're going to point, we don't want to point like this. We don't point like this, instead you point. Go ahead and commit. Whatever movement that is, commit to what it is.

Alan Irwin: I see a lot of this with speakers, who for some reason feel there's this barrier in front of them and they can't reach out. You'll see this sort of movement where they're sort of back with the hands. Really reach out, break that wall, make the connection to the audience, bring it back to you. Feel comfortable getting past this wall, so that your movements have power and meaning, and you can emphasize things or you can sort of gently talk about a difficult subject. A lot of movements provide context and meaning to what you're speaking about.

Kymberlee: Be careful also of hands in the pockets. Sometimes we do that as a protective mechanism so you have hands in the pockets or we're kind of like shielding the audience. What this does, it closes the audience off from you. It's like, "I'm protecting, I'm shy, or I don't trust myself." Those are some of the subliminal things that your audience might be picking up on. Don't do that. Instead, just drop your hands at your side or you can have one hand on the hip. Ladies, it's great if you want to make a statement to have both hands on the hips, because that's a power position. Men can do that too of course. Anything you do within your movements just notice what you do and notice the patterns. We don't want to get into anything repetitive.

Alan Irwin: Exactly. You've made this point several times, and I just want to reiterate it. Videotape yourself.

The more you can see yourself on videotape, the stronger you'll get about seeing movements that you're making that don't provide anything of value to the speech, that are just offhand, thoughtless movements.

Kymberlee: You are your own best coach, so get yourself in front of camera and watch it.

I have some clients whom I'll ask, "Hey, did you record yourself?"

"Yes, I did."

"Did you watch it?"

"No, I did not."

You must watch it! When you watch it, you will see pattern and you will pick up these things. You'll pick up when you're flicking your hair all the time, or you're ...

Alan Irwin: Rubbing your nose, and covering your mouth.

Kymberlee: Right Alan? Alan has a problem with the hair.

Alan Irwin: Yes, exactly.

Kymberlee: Do get yourself in front of video and just make those little corrections because that can make a big difference when you're connecting with the people that are watching what you have to say.

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  1. You and Alan teamed up very well and seamlessly. Outstanding!
    Your outtakes were beyond funny!!!
    Still laughing, funnies ever.
    Made you seem so relax, real and connecting!!!!
    We are still laughing and in tears????

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