Chapter 4: Stand and Deliver

There are some gestures you should never do when delivering a speech, those include scratching your head, twisting your hair, hitting the lectern, and doing anything that will draw your audience's attention from you to the object you're focusing on.

For speeches to an international audience, find out if there are any offensive gestures to that particular culture. You'd be surprised how many common American gestures are insulting to other groups. For example, the Thumbs up symbol means Up yours, pal! in Middle Eastern countries. In Thailand, Iraq, Sardinia, South America, and West Africa, the same symbol has the same meaning as the middle finger does here in America.

Make sure your movements are purposeful whether it be a turn of the head or a movement from a few steps from the lectern. As you move away from the lectern and closer to the audience, you're removing the artificial barrier between you and them. For smaller groups, coming from behind a podium helps you create a personal relationship with them. If you can't move fully—maybe you have a microphone attachment and you're being videotaped—you still can make a connection from a podium by leaning forward from the waist and making a few gestures with your hands. As long as you don't overdo it, hand gestures can add interest and flair to your presentation.

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