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Public Speaking for Women

Public Speaking for Women

Harness the power of your voice and elevate your public speaking skills to make a lasting impact. 

As a confident public speaker, you can connect, convince and create positive change. Ready to step up and share your message? My Public Speaking for Women program is now open for applications. I can provide public speaking coaching wherever you are based with my online coaching services.

Imagine that you can stand up and speak to any crowd, anytime, and know that you are coming across your very best and that people remember your message. Even better, they connect with you, feel inspired and want to hear more. If this is something that you would like to embrace, then it may be time to take action. 

Women can be held back in their careers if they lack public speaking skills and the ability to communicate effectively. Being able to confidently lead a meeting, speak at a conference, moderate a panel, or clearly articulate your ideas to your manager is a necessary skill for career development.

What is holding many women back when it comes to public speaking?

Firstly, let’s uncover what holds many women back when it comes to public speaking. These five barriers are based on my own research in working with over 1,000 individuals to help them become more confident at speaking in front of others.

1. Fear of rejection

A fear of public speaking stems back to a primitive response: the need to belong. Humans need other humans to survive, and when we stand in front of a crowd, we feel the threat of rejection. Even though the danger of public speaking is perceived and not actual, it triggers our fight or flight response, and we enter a state of survival. Sound familiar? 

2. Fear of being judged

As I mentioned above, we are driven by a fundamental need to belong. But we also want to be liked, and some of us are ‘people pleasers. I often hear clients tell me that they feel people are questioning what they are saying or even why they are speaking – although there is no evidence suggesting this is what people are really thinking. 

As I say to my clients, we are set up for success when we work on our mindset before focusing on our skillset. Don’t let this one get in the way of sharing your message.

3. Aiming for perfection

Having a high standard and striving for excellence can be a positive thing, but it is unhelpful when it turns into a need to be perfect.

Until we can let go of perfection and concentrate on showing up to be our best selves, we will be held back. You don’t have to be perfect, you do need to be willing to practise and make progress. 

4. Stuck in overwhelm or procrastination

I get it as I have been here too. You may be feeling any one or more of the above, and overwhelm or procrastination takes over, even though you know deep down that you will not be at your best with no planning or preparation. Start with the end in mind and start planning now. If you’d like a Free Speaker Checklist, then you can download it here.

5. Not knowing where to start or how to seek help

Sometimes it is easier to get stuck than to get started. If public speaking is not on your favourite list of things to do, it may be time for you to get the help you need. If you are considering working with a public speaking coach, there are some key things to consider.

Public Speaking is a Learned Skill

Public speaking is a learned skill, and I can share techniques that I have used to help over 1000 leaders to gain their confidence in presenting to others. The Speaking Savvy Public Speaking for Women Program is open for new applications. This program will help reduce your learning curve – with customised 1:1 public speaking coaching sessions, save you time – with an expert in your corner, and allow you to increase your earnings and make a significant impact by sharing your message and story.

With the right help, you can progress professionally with public speaking at the top of your soft skills set. And as a confident speaker, other soft skills will further develop, such as negotiation skills, and the ability to influence and persuade. 

For years, women have been judged by different standards to men, and voice is one of those – ‘too high pitched, too soft, whispery, even ‘shrill and whiny’ are ways that I have heard people describe female voices. 

If you are ready to step into your personal power as a compelling speaker, or if you want to enhance the sound of your voice, boost your confidence and speak up about the important things you have to share, then I am here to help you. 

It’s not about being perfectly polished; it’s about finding that authentic space, one where you can show up without fear, own your unique style and be fully present and engaged with any audience. 

During the program, we will focus on creating your unique message and voice so that you can confidently step into the spotlight and speak with credibility, turn heads, and change hearts and minds. 

What’s included in the Public Speaking for Women program?

The Speaking Savvy Public Speaking for Women program is a four-month program for professional women*.

The program includes: 

  • 1:1 Coaching Sessions – 4 x 90-minute sessions tailored to your individual goals and needs.
  • Group Coaching Sessions – each fortnight, we will meet online to share ideas and learnings and practise in a safe and encouraging space. We will hold each other accountable and commit to implementing our actions for the week.
  • Books and Resources – You will receive copies of several books including a copy of The Art of Speaking and Storytelling plus additional books from my recommended reading list, and you will also have access to plenty of worksheets, resources and reading materials. 

*The program is open to women and those who identify as female. 

Applications are open for the next intake of Speaking Savvy Public Speaking for Women. 

Let’s start with a chat over coffee, drop me a line to pick a time that works for you.

If you would like an on-site customised Public Speaking for Women program for your team, I can deliver half-day, full-day or multi-day sessions. Let’s book a time to discuss. 


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

How to Get the Best Out of Everyone at a Meeting

How to Get the Best Out of Everyone at a Meeting

I have never met anyone who says they want to attend more meetings at work! For many people, meetings are a productivity zap. So how do we make sure we aim to get the best out of everyone at a meeting?

Many people comment that meetings can be a waste of time, time which could be better spent focusing on more productive tasks. Or that meetings are unnecessarily long and boring, or that their creative ideas get ignored or that decisions are not made. 

The higher up in a company you are, the more time you are likely to spend in these unproductive and demotivating meetings. It is estimated that this can be as many as 23 hours each week

No one minds attending a meeting that is planned and productive, but it’s those poorly run meetings that are the issue. 

Here are some steps you can take to overhaul your business meetings so you avoid wasting your valuable resources and get creative ideas and ingenuity from your talented team members.

Plan ahead to get the best out of everyone at a meeting

To have an effective and productive meeting, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this meeting necessary? Perhaps you could get the same outcome with a phone call or an email. This could allow you to get valuable input from the members of your team who feel less comfortable in a traditional meeting environment. Not everyone likes to share ideas verbally. Be respectful of people’s time and resources and consider individual communication styles.
  • What is the purpose of the meeting? By setting objectives and being clear on what you need to accomplish, you’ll be more efficient. Communicate the purpose of the meeting as part of the invite and again at the start of the meeting. Having a well thought out agenda, that you stick to, will make the meeting much more efficient. Seek input from team members and list agenda items as questions the team needs to answer.
  • Who needs to attend? You won’t get the best out of your employees at a meeting if there is no real need for them to be there. Not only will they come into the meeting with a negative attitude, they’ll switch off, lose motivation, and won’t provide the creative ideas and feedback your business needs to thrive. Do you allow your employees the option to leave, if they feel that it is not useful for them to be in the room? Elon Musk tries to avoid meetings at Tesla and encourages people to leave meetings if they are not adding any value.
  • Have I given plenty of notice? Make sure you tell your team about the meeting at least a day in advance so they have time to collect their thoughts, focus and give it their best. Ideally, send out the papers and pre-reading prior to the meeting. 

Get rid of PowerPoint

Attend any traditional meeting and you’re almost certain to find a PowerPoint presentation that needs to be picked apart and discussed before the meeting can finally come to an end. 

The result? Your meeting feels overly formal and leaves your team members feeling disconnected from the core purpose of your meeting. 

They’re less inclined to contribute, less likely to retain the information you’re sharing, creativity is limited and the overall message can be lost behind the visuals. If team members prefer to absorb information slowly, the faster-paced, thinking on your feet ‘PowerPoint Approach’ is also more likely to deliver disappointing results. 

For these reasons, the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint from their meetings back in 2018. 

The alternative is simple. Present your team members with a document outlining the points you’d like to discuss either before or at the start of the meeting and allow them time to read and digest the information. 

Keep it short

Meetings shouldn’t take hours or feel like an ordeal. To get the best out of everyone at a meeting, they should be short, sweet, and effective. 

Wherever possible, keep meetings to under 30 minutes and rely on that agenda to ensure you cover every topic. If you have an extensive list of ideas to discuss, consider scheduling a separate meeting to focus on each topic in turn. 

Don’t be afraid to end the meeting before planned if you’re not making progress or adding value. You won’t offend anyone. As a business, your time is money. You can always reschedule if required and give your team time to reflect on the issues at hand. 

Consider everyone’s personality

More extroverted members of your team are more likely to communicate their ideas without prompting in a meeting. They’ll play an active role, speak their mind, and won’t mind being the centre of attention. When working with an extrovert, you must ensure that they don’t take too long or take over the meeting. Having a skilled facilitator can help this process. 

Introverts, on the other hand, are more likely to consider the ideas carefully, take notes and avoid being in the spotlight. If this difference in behaviour isn’t addressed effectively, you won’t get the most out of your team members. 

To do so, provide plenty of time for reflection, allow them to take notes and create a ‘round robin’ style section that pushes the individual to speak without adding too much pressure.

By taking the different personality types into consideration, you’re more likely to find a balance. 

Some may feel nervous about public speaking

There may be members on your team who could benefit from attending a public speaking workshop or coaching session. When all eyes are on you in a meeting setting, some may feel a level of discomfort that prevents them from sharing their ideas. Consider upskilling your team members so that they feel confident to speak up at meetings. 

Avoid distractions 

Although introverts prefer quiet spaces with plenty of time for reflection and extroverts prefer action, big groups and constant action, all team members will work more effectively in a meeting if you keep distractions to a minimum.  

Ask everyone to avoid using their devices and ban answering phone calls, checking emails, or completing other tasks whilst the meeting is in progress. If Members of your team prefer to take notes, encourage them to write them down in a notebook instead of firing up the laptop. It can also be useful to provide notes afterwards to allow your team to digest what they have heard. 

Actively manage the meeting

Every effective meeting should have a facilitator or timekeeper to ensure that the time is used effectively. This can include using hand signals, coloured cards or even using a timer to ensure that everything is covered before moving onto the next topic. 

They can also help guide the discussion, encouraging more introverted team members to speak up and limiting the time that the extroverts stay in the limelight. 

Summarise your meeting

When the meeting comes to an end, recap what has been discussed and outline details such as next steps, the time frame and who is responsible for each task. 

This provides clarity and promotes an action-based approach that can help your business move closer towards its goals. Combined with a printed copy of the next steps, you’ll ensure that even team members with a short attention span can take action. 

Switch your location and get creative

Meetings don’t have to be done in a dull, stuffy conference room

In fact, moving to another location such as a coffee shop, bar or even the great outdoors can help add new creative energy to the proceedings and make it a fun experience that team members will look forward to. 

Many multinationals also like to use office design to promote spaces that allow for different types of meetings and personality types. 

How could you switch up your meeting location to get the best out of everyone? 

Business meetings can be productive, effective, and even fun if you follow the steps outlined here. 

Prepare for the meeting carefully, set time limits, consider everyone’s personality, and actively manage the proceedings to ensure everyone can share their ideas. By doing so, you’ll get the best out of your team and turn round meetings to be an opportunity for creativity and innovation. 


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

What Does a Public Speaking Coach Do & Why You Need One

What Does a Public Speaking Coach Do & Why You Need One

How would your life and business change if you could speak in front of any number of people and sound as confident as you do when you share new ideas with your best friend?

If you are wondering ‘what does a public speaking coach do’, the short answer is that we are the ones who can make this dream-like scenario a reality for you.

Still, there is a lot more to it than that, and there is a lot of bad advice out there.

How solid public speaking skills can change your life and career

You have ideas that can make an impact on people’s lives. You know that. You feel it within.

But how will others understand that if you can’t finish a sentence without sweating or nervously reading out your notes? Worse, if you can’t even put yourself out there because your stage fright is holding you back?

When you master the skill of public speaking, you can:

  • advance your career by showcasing both your professionalism and leadership skills
  • make a tangible and memorable impact on your audience
  • market yourself and/or your business effectively and boost your sales
  • increase your reach and influence
  • boost your confidence, feeling empowered when sharing insights with others
  • create valuable social and professional connections.

So, what does a public speaking coach do?

A public speaking coach educates and guides you on speaking with power, poise, presence, and purpose so that you can face the stage confidently and make a difference when you do so.

But what does a public speaking coaching session look and feel like?

Essentially, we help you create and develop both your vocal and visual brand as well as your key message and overall stage presence.

Most importantly, we teach you how to use your public speaking and communication skills as a leader to effectively transform others while earning buy-in and engagement.

Finding the right public speaking coach for you

Let’s be honest: you can’t expect those results with everyone, and you do have to be willing to invest both time and money. A volunteer-led public speaking group may seem like a low cost option, but in reality you are not going to fast track or get to the level that is required for a leader.

Since there are many self-proclaimed coaches out there, be sure you invest your hard-earned money wisely.

Now that you know what public speaking coaches do, when you are looking for the right fit for you, find out how they’ve been offering their services:

  • Are they qualified? Or are they simply calling themselves a coach? Look for recognised, ideally global credentials, accreditations, and certifications on their websites and marketing materials
  • Who have they helped? Social proof and testimonials from previous clients are key. After all, anyone can write nice words about themselves. It’s when you read what someone who used to be in your same position has to say that you’ll actually know what to expect.
  • Are they practising what they preach? Just like I doubt you would trust a chef trainer who doesn’t do any cooking, best not pick a public speaking coach who is never spotted behind a mic

Why invest in Lisa & Speaking Savvy

My name is Lisa Evans, and I am a public speaking coach for leaders who are ready to sound as smart as they are.

As a Certified World Class Speaking Coach with over ten years of experience, I have helped many stage-phobic professionals just like you advance their careers.

They are now perceived as the thought-leading experts they already were but struggled to come across as.

You can get reassured by dozens of testimonials and life-changing experiences or watch me perform as a speaker myself.

So, why me?

  • Public speaking is a journey: I regularly invest in my own professional development to continue being a leading coach at the forefront of my niche
  • After two decades of working as a midwife, I know a thing or two about professionalism and empathy
  • I have gone through the exact same fears at the start of my career change. Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable is scary, but I am living proof that it pays off
  • Mine is not a one-size-fits-all approach: we can work together via small group coaching sessions or through a 1:1 program, in person if you’re also based in Australia or online from anywhere else in the world
  • Working with me is confidential. You may share information with me such as business development or highly guarded pitches, and this will never be shared by me. No one needs to know we are coaching together. In fact, the majority of my clients are senior executives who require this level of discretion.

To summarise, what does a public speaking coach do? I help you feel and be perceived as a confident leader, opening your career to a whole new world of opportunities.

Get one step closer to delivering your life-changing public speaking event by booking a complimentary 30-minute strategy call today.


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

Be a Podcast Guest – how to find opportunities to speak

Be a Podcast Guest – how to find opportunities to speak

Being a guest on a podcast or a radio show is a fabulous way to get your ideas in front of more people and to offer value in your area of expertise.

Podcast guesting is an effective way to build your brand and credibility, plus it can be a lot of fun. 

Being a guest on a podcast is rewarding and with time and patience you can build up a profile as a desirable guest, but it takes time to build up relationships.

Having an outreach process can help you save time as well as find the best fit for you. It is also strongly recommended that you have a streamlined process for being booked as a guest, this can include scheduling tools, links to guest info and images and follow up processes. 

So what’s all the fuss about podcasts? 

According to Podcast Insights there are currently over 2,000,000 shows, and as of April 2021, there are 48 million episodes. 

That’s a lot of opportunities! And there really is a podcast for everyone – whether you are a listener or a potential guest. 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with so much choice, so avoid a stab in the dark approach, and make a plan so you have the best chance to get on the right shows. Your aim is for a seamless experience,  a win:win opportunity and overall fun and positive experience. 

I started my podcast earlier this year. My first episode of Business Chat launched in February and I am now up to episode 22. It may not sound like a lot, but podcasting is a slow and steady journey. 

Hosting my own podcast was on my ‘nice to have’ list for quite some time, and what held me back from getting started, was simply that the ‘why?’ was not strong enough. I wasn’t clear about the purpose of having a podcast (and justifying the additional work that came with it) and how having a podcast aligned with my overall business goals.

So, I resisted the urge to jump in and waited until some clarity came to me. I also had several discussions with business mentors and podcasters to find out what exactly is involved. 

One thing I did before having my own podcast was to be a guest on a podcast at least once per month, so my suggestion of having an outreach process to help you find the ideal show is tried and tested. 

Why be a guest on a podcast?

  1. You have the opportunity to add value to another audience, and share your knowledge whilst showcasing your area of expertise.

As a podcast guest you are building your credibility as a known and trusted expert.

  1. Podcasters do their best to make sure their show is successful. No one wants to be another podfade statistic. So your content is likely to be heavily promoted by the podcast host. They will do their best to highlight your episode so it’s a great opportunity for you to gain exposure to a different/broader listener base. Ideally, the podcast listeners are likely to be your ideal clients too. 
  1. You may get calls and leads leading to collaborations, additional guest opportunities and ultimately paid work. 

What to look for when searching for podcast guest opportunities 

With such a large volume of podcasts out there, how do you choose which ones may be a fit? 

I suggest you begin by identifying what podcast shows or hosts your ideal clients may be listening to. For example, if you are an expert speaker on finance and investing, then head to that category on your favourite podcast provider and listen to a few episodes to get a feel for the style. Bookmark the ones you like, or feel are a good fit (or add to favorites) and this is the beginning of your outreach list. 

Note the style of podcast too, as there is not much point reaching out to a podcast host who only has solo episodes.  Many podcasters have guest episodes and some do a mix of solo and guest interviews. 

Check out any star ratings and written reviews the podcast has as well as the number of episodes and the length of time the podcast has been online. Quality and consistency is key. A podcast host who publishes sporadically with an inconsistent approach may not be the right fit for you as they may not have a stable audience.  

When you listen to some episode, what do you feel?

Can you see yourself sitting opposite that person having a coffee and a chat (this is likely to be a virtual call but still good to think of it like a quality coffee conversation). You can only get a good vibe happening if you feel a connection to the other person. 

What about the quality? 

There is no right or wrong way, it is personal preference. I have listened to podcasts where the host has a mobile phone going off, cars, planes and pets in the background and generally poor quality audio. 

Does this distract from the message if the content is awesome? That is up to you! Personally, I am not interested in listening to or appearing on any podcast without quality audio. But for some of you, that might make it feel more authentic.   You need to feel aligned with the type of podcast before approaching them.  

What type of questions does the host ask guests? 

Does it sound more like a monologue, or is it a friendly, easy to listen to conversation? Do the questions sound prepared or read aloud, or is it a more organic style? I personally prefer the latter as I think it makes for better conversation. 

There are plenty of podcast booking platforms out there, some paid and some with free plans. I recently tried MatchMaker FM and it’s a very active platform. In fact, the first week I was bombarded with emails for guests who wanted to be on my podcast. 

With a planned approach to getting booked on podcasts, you will soon be a regular guest speaker on podcasts.   

In the next part of this blog series, I am going to outline an outreach strategy that will help your plan and approach to guest speaking and most importantly to help you ‘be delightful to work with’.

If you would like to do more guest speaking on podcasts or radio, but you lack confidence in public speaking, you can sign up to my newsletter list where I share lots of tips and tricks for public speaking and receive my new e-book “How to build your confidence and overcome nervousness”.

Check out my recent post on microphone tips for guest podcasting. 


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

Top 5 Microphone tips for sounding great when guest speaking on podcast

Top 5 Microphone tips for sounding great when guest speaking on podcast

Microphone tips for guest speaking on podcasts

You’ve been invited to be a guest on a podcast (or radio interview), great news. Here are some super simple microphone tips for sounding your best if you are being interviewed.

Every speaker, every microphone and every situation is different. These are very general mic tips and apply to when you are in the studio with a podcast or radio host.

Microphone tip #1 – Bring the microphone to you

Sit or stand comfortably and then bring the microphone towards you. Aim to have your ears aligned with your shoulders. If you extend your head in towards the mic, your chin will jut out, your neck will stretch, and your pitch will change, so avoid this by moving towards the mic until you are positioned about a fist-width away. 

Microphone tip #2 – Let the mic do its job

The microphone will carry your voice, and you don’t have to exert any effort for this to happen. There is no need to raise your voice or strain. You can test the mic before your interview. Speak at a level that you would during a relaxed conversation. Your podcast or radio host can adjust your volume accordingly. 

Microphone tip #3 – Be aware of plosives

Plosives are those pesky popping sounds. Certain sounds will pop if you are speaking directly into the microphone. Popping plosives include t,d,p,k,b,g.

The sounds that pop the most are the unvoiced plosives, the t,p, and k. It’s irritating to listen to a speaker ‘pop’ continuously.

If you speak across the mic rather than directly into it, there will be less air pressure pushed into the mic, and the plosive sounds will reduce. Sounding better already!

Microphone tip #3 – Avoid dry mouth noises

If you are not well hydrated, clicking, snapping noises from your mouth will be picked up by the mic as you speak and then amplified.

Nervousness causes a dry mouth, so you need to up your fluid intake well before the interview. Aim to hydrate several hours before the interview.

Pro tip: having some balm on your lips, my favourite is paw paw lip balm, will help your lips glide and prevent lip-smacking noises. 

Microphone tip #5 – Warm-up your voice and body

A simple body warm-up to get centred and reduce tension will help you feel relaxed and ready. Vocal warm-up is important and doesn’t have to be long or arduous, some quick lip trills, jaw and face massage, and some quick tongue twisters

In this blog series, I’m sharing simple tips to make your guest speaking experience an enjoyable one. Other blogs in the series are: how to find guest speaking opportunities on podcasts and radio and how to be an ideal podcast (or radio) guest.

Lisa Evans is the host of the Business Chat Podcast, a weekly conversation with an inspiring leader in business. She is also the co-host of In Good Company, a weekly radio show on 89.7FM Perth


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.

5 Body Language Tips – Arms and Hands

5 Body Language Tips – Arms and Hands

When you take steps to improve your public speaking, there are many things to consider. Body language and, in particular, what to do with your arms and hands is one area.

It’s unlikely that you gave your arms or hands much thought before you decided to improve your presentation style; they do what they do. But when we are trying to learn or improve something, we become self-aware. And that can lead to feeling self-conscious and over-thinking.

The aim is to keep your arm gestures natural and fluid and ensure that your hands are not distracting. We want to come across as genuine, authentic and relaxed. 

Five things to do with your hands and arms

#1 Relax

If you feel stressed about speaking in public, you are most likely to hold tension in your upper body. This tension can result in your shoulders creeping up towards your ears and your arms pinned tightly to your sides. Stiff arms result in jerky and awkward looking movements, and this can result in having your hands moving in front of your face. 

Aim to get comfortable when you speak in public. Reducing any nervousness and including a breath, vocal, and body warm-up is essential for your public speaking success. Focus on adequate breathing rather than shallow high breaths, and you can adopt a simple breathing pattern such as box breathing.

If you fear public speaking and would like help to get comfortable, consider working with an experienced public speaking coach.

#2 Move with purpose

When people are nervous, their hands often flit about and fidget. When they’re confident, they are either still or move with intent. 

When you observe a speaker, you may notice they use on particular gesture repeatedly, or they may use gestures that distract rather than enhance. 

Give your hands some thought as part of your preparation to aim for natural movements that don’t take people away from focusing on your message.  

One way to accomplish a stillness in your upper body is to clasp both hands together in a relaxed pyramid (thumbs lightly touching at the top and fingers at the bottom). Then rest your hands around waist height. The pyramid is one resting position for your hands. However, I recommend mixing it up a bit, so it’s not the only resting position you use.

The ideal position for your hands is somewhere between your waist and your shoulders.

When Bill Clinton began his career in politics, he often used expansive, large arm gestures. Body language experts said that these gestures came across as untrustworthy. His communication advisors told him to imagine a box in front of his torso and contain his hand movements within that area. The “Clinton box” became a popular term.

#3 Own your space

When we feel stressed, we tend to shrink and make ourselves small —rounding the shoulders and adopting closed postures. Your arms may gravitate to a folded position, and you may default to clenching your fists or clasping your hands. These outwardly visible movements are a giveaway that you are not feeling confident. 

According to the psychologist, Dr Russ Harris, author of The Confidence Gap, the actions of confidence come before the feelings of confidence. We get to choose what we do with our hands; it’s an action of confidence. Despite feeling uncomfortable, we can avoid wrapping our arms around us and instead adopt a more resourceful posture. 

You may like to try power posing, made popular by social scientist Amy Cuddy . Your mindset and how you show up with open postures may help you feel more confident. It takes practice. 

When you present in a larger space with a bigger audience, then aim to match your arm gestures with more expansive movements. Your audience won’t see small hand gestures from the back of the room. Don’t be afraid to take up the space you need. 

#4 Record and review

Video is an excellent tool for reviewing your performance. The recording will enable you to assess your body language for congruency and bring any unnecessary movements or areas to address. Ideally, record every presentation you give; even if you record a few minutes, it is helpful to observe how your body reacts to any stressful situation. Some movements that you see on camera, you are probably not aware that you are doing.

When you review your video, consider the following,

  • Are my arm/hand movements smooth?
  • Do I have symmetry in my body, or am I using one arm/hand mainly?
  • Are my arm/hand movements supporting what I say, or are they distracting?
  • Are there any arm/hand movements that I repeatedly use?

Most importantly, aim for congruence so that your message and body language are aligned. 

#5 Consider your audience 

Knowing your audience is a vital part of presentation planning and delivery. When it comes to body language and hand gestures, some movements are taboo in some countries. 

The “Ok” sign is a familiar gesture to indicate a positive reaction, but in France, the symbol means “nil” or “worthless.” And, in Venezuela, Brazil, and Turkey, the gesture is offensive, especially to LGBTIQ+ people.

In summary, there is a lot to consider about your body language when learning to improve your public speaking. Aim to be as natural and authentic as you can. Develop your style and when you are setting out, try not to overthink. Record and review your talk so that you can observe and correct any stray or unwanted gestures. There are a number of articles in my blog series on non verbal communication that may interest you. Browse them here.


About Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, and improvisational actor. 

She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations. 

If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my new E-book How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.