November 16

What to do with your hands on video: The do’s and don’ts


Taladega Nights Ricky Bobby GIF from Taladeganights GIFs

What should I do with my hands when on a video call?! Whether you are new to virtual selling or a virtual veteran, communicating naturally on video can feel anything but natural!

What comes easy to you during an in-person conversation becomes entirely unnatural and quite challenging the moment the little light turns red at the top of your screen.  Sales professionals often struggle with what to do with their hands when on a video call, like:

Am I gesturing too much? Too little? How big should my gestures be?  How small?  How often? 

Who wouldn’t be confused?!  But learning how to gesture and use your body language authentically and effectively on video is critical.  It can help bridge that virtual gap between you and your customer and make your message come to life, so here are some must know do’s and don’ts about what to do with your hands on video:

Don’t: Definitely do NOT follow Ricky Bobby’s lead

Will Ferrell, in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, provides us with the perfect example of what NOT to do with our hands on a video call.

Ricky Bobby GIF from Talladeganights GIFs

Although you may laugh at Ricky Bobby’s floating hands or his manhandling of the microphone, there are plenty of less obvious movements that can distract your audience and reduce your credibility and impact.

Don’t sit on your hands

Many so-called experts advise sales professionals to refrain from using their hands when on video calls. The result? Otherwise engaging salespeople come across as unenthused and flat! The total absence of hand gestures can suck all the energy out of you if you speak with your hands in normal conversation.

If you do not usually speak with your hands, try to maintain open body posture and language – i.e. do not cross your arms, angle yourself towards the camera, etc.  And think about finding some small ways to use your hands to support what you’re saying.

Do stay within your frame

Know what your frame is and try to stay within it.  Too much gesturing outside of frame can be distracting, as well as reinforce the fact that you are not in person.

Do slow it down

You’ve probably noticed that when someone moves too quickly on camera it can get a little blurry or distracting. This is especially true when you use a green screen.  Keep your movements slow and deliberate.  Aim for quality over quantity.

Do use movement to support what your saying

Think of your hands as punctuation to your words.  You can use them to express a range of emotions, indicate size/distance, and importance.  A sprinkling of well-placed gestures can add meaning and emphasis to key points and ideas.

Don’t choreograph your hand movements

Although this may seem like a suitable solution, over-choreographing your hand gestures ahead of time risks you looking disingenuous and robotic. Not to mention, you already have enough to consider without also trying to remember that you must extend your arm to a 45-degree angle with a slight wrist rotation on slide number three.  Practice any new gestures until they become natural and connected to what you’re saying.

Using your hands on video can actually help your customers understand what you’re saying if it supports your message rather than detracts from it.  Learn more about what reads well on video and how to connect with your audience through body language, eye contact, expression and more in the Selling On-Camera Master Class.

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