As a speech coach, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “What do I do with my hands when I speak in public?” It’s a question that is natural to ask. This is what I tell my clients and audiences.

It’s important to remember that your hand gestures are best when in sync with your words. If your words are powerful and impactful, your gestures should be as well.

Remember, in public speaking your hands are a powerful tool.

They can be used to emphasize key points, make gestures, and create a sense of connection with your audience. However, if not used effectively, they can also be a major distraction and take away from the impact of your message.

Keep in mind that your hands should be natural and relaxed. Avoid any unnatural or forced gestures, as they will come across as inauthentic and distracting. Instead, focus on using natural gestures that help you emphasize key points and connect with your audience.

Many of my brilliant and more analytical content experts would look and feel totally out of place if they used what they consider over-the-top gestures.

Others look at home with larger and more flamboyant gestures that match their personality and message.

All speakers are well served to have a natural resting position when they are not gesturing. That is best at your belt line. When you do gesture, the idea is to bring the attention towards your mouth, not below your belt.

You may be familiar with what is commonly called the fig leaf. If you are not, use your imagination. Having seen what I would call the fig leaf flasher, you can imagine the audience finds it impossible to focus on the message.

Your natural resting place may also be good on your pause.

When I created my online learning program FrippVT (virtual training) on Powerful, Persuasive Presentations, at the conclusion of each video clip I brought my hands down to my resting position. It was part of my signal “this is my conclusion.”

If you use a remote control, you can keep both hands together around the clicker at your belt level until it feels natural to you to gesture with one of them.

Although some of your gestures may include both hands mirroring each other, do not continue all the time. Develop a repertoire of gestures that you feel comfortable using.

If you speak behind a lectern, you may only need gestures occasionally.

Another important suggestion that I feel strongly about is to keep in mind that your hands should never be in your pockets. Although some speakers are comfortable with this, I advise against it. If you are relatively young and presenting to your senior leadership, if you have one or both hands in your pockets, it will appear to be disrespectful.

Unless you are in the military, hands behind your back when you are speaking looks very strange. You will appear closed off and disconnected from your audience. Instead, keep your hands visible and use them to create a sense of openness and engagement.

Dos and don’ts of hand gestures:

Stern father: Using your index finger to emphasize a specific point or idea is okay. However, be careful not to point at the audience and prod your finger as if you were telling them, “Kid, you do this, or else!”

Open palms: Use open palms to show honesty and sincerity.

Chopping: You can use a chopping motion to create emphasis and impact. However, be aware that both hands making up and down chopping motions will distract from your words.

The key to effective hand gestures when speaking in public is to be natural, relaxed, and authentic. Use gestures that emphasize key points and create a sense of connection with your audience. Your goal is to always make sure that your gestures are in sync with your words. With practice and attention, you can master the art of using your hands to enhance your public speaking and make a powerful impact on your audience.

Remember, everything we do either adds to, or distracts from, your message.

“Your speech was brilliant. Absolutely amazing.” Tom Ferry, #1 Real Estate Coach and Speaker, NY Times Bestselling Author, Entrepreneur

“Wow, thank you so much! Your changes to my speech script proves, you are the Eighth Wonder of the World.” I am so motivated to dive into FrippVT your on-lines courses, the quickest way I can learn how to write like you.” Jay Kamhi, President, Kamhi World


My speech coaching clients frequently hear me say, “Are you going to do it, or kind of do it? Remember, you do not kind of or sort of do anything.”

Even seasoned executives who should know better, use these weak words and phrases. Often, I believe they are attempting to sound humble. However, it only makes them lose their power in conversations and presentations.

We are talking about speech qualifiers.

Nothing is better than enthusiastic coaching clients. With Tom Ferry Speaker Bureau members.

Speech qualifiers are words and phrases that we use to weaken our statements or soften the impact of our message. Some common speech qualifiers include “kind of,” “sort of,” “maybe,” “probably,” “just,” “a little bit,” “try,” and “I think.” While these words and phrases may seem harmless, they can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of our communication. Here is why.

First, speech qualifiers can undermine our credibility.

When we use words like “kind of” or “sort of,” we suggest that we are not fully committed to our message or that we lack confidence in what we are saying. This can lead our audience to doubt the validity of our message and question our expertise or knowledge on the topic.

Second speech qualifiers can diminish the impact of our message.

When we use words like “maybe” or “probably,” we suggest that we are uncertain about our message or that there are exceptions to what we are saying. This can make our message less compelling and less persuasive.

Third, speech qualifiers can distract our audience from our message.

When we use words like “just” or “a little bit,” we draw attention to the qualifier rather than the message itself. This can make our audience lose focus on the key idea we are attempting to make.

I challenge my coaching clients to avoid using sloppy language which includes speech qualifiers. To accomplish this, they must be intentional in their daily conversations and meetings. Listen to the recording of their meetings. Review their presentations. Ask their family, friends, and team members to bring to their attention when they use their “naughty words.”

Once we eliminate words and phrases that weaken our statements or distract from our message, we will build our credibility, increase the impact of our message, and communicate with greater clarity and conviction.

I am sure you agree, the benefits of being known as a powerful communicator is worth the effort.

Fripp Virtual TrainingImagine a training program that gives you 24/7 access to one of the most in-demand executive speech coaches and sales presentation experts. Fripp Virtual Training is designed to be immediately engaging and makes it fun to learn. If you are a novice presenter or a seasoned professional, you will find the content both practical and relevant.

Sign up for your complimentary trial and discover how FrippVT can transform you and your team. FrippVT delivers high-caliber comprehensive presentation and sales presentation skills training with built-in accountability.

Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp is hired by individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.

“The information in FrippVT is as valuable as any college course I’ve taken. This is a resource that everyone needs. The investment is worth ten times more than I paid and has been life-changing. My fees, recommendations, and referrals have increased dramatically. I am delighted. For the first time in my speaking career, I know exactly want I am doing when I walk on stage. One technique in course 8 helped me win a highly-paid, international speech.” Mitzi Perdue, author of How to Make Your Family Business Last


𝐒𝐨𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬 said, “𝐊𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐲𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟.”

Patricia Fripp (that’s me!) says, “Put your words under the magnifying glass.”

𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞 all of 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬, just follow these simple steps.

If you have a video of a presentation that you felt went really well, sit down and watch it. However, change your perspective.

Imagine you are a high-priced speech coach. Pretend that ‘this speaker’ is not you. When we focus on ourselves, we have a tendency to get distracted by a wrinkle in our jacket or that strand of hair that is out of place.  Then, look at ‘that speaker’ and think, “What is that speaker doing superbly well?” You must find something. Did they have a good grasp of their content? Did they move well on stage? Did they smile at the audience?

Patricia Fripp explains that specificity builds credibility through Fripp Virtual Training.
Executive Speech Coach Patricia Fripp explains the importance of specificity The World is Full of Sloppy speakers through Fripp Virtual Training.

The World is Full of Sloppy Speakers…You Do Not Want to Become One

Many excellent presentations sound “conversational.”  However, be aware that there is a distinct difference between an ordinary conversation (with run-on sentences, unfinished thoughts, sloppy language) and a presentation delivered in a conversational style.

The best way to improve formal presentations and reports is to clean up your daily language used in informal interactions.


Great Advice I Have GiverDo Your Irritate Your Audience?

Whenever you open your mouth whether your audience is one person or one thousand, you want to get a specific message across. Maybe you want your opinions heard at a meeting or you will be giving a formal talk. Perhaps you deliver sales presentations. To present, persuade, and propel with the spoken word, be aware of this major pitfall: irritating non-words.

“Ur, um, hr, u know, kinda, um, ya know…”  

Pay attention to whether you are unconsciously using these common non-words.

One speaker I heard began every thought with, “Now…” He started every single presentation point with “Now….” This might be okay occasionally, but not every thirty seconds. Record yourself and check whether you have bad verbal habits. The “er, um, ya knows” usually end up inserted where there should simply be a pause.

Awareness is the best way to break these bad habits.Get ahead in your career

I worked with a sales team pitching a five hundred thousand dollars contract, and their bad verbal habits included “kind of” and “sort of.” “Kind of ” and “sort of”  do not sound clear, crisp, and precise. They don’t instill the confidence and trust needed to close a sale of this magnitude. The sales team wasn’t even aware they were making these major mistakes.

Record your words.

Raise your own awareness of your bad habits. Give your friends permission to point it out when you are using your go-to filler words.

If you have an important presentation coming up, you might want to practice it, have it transcribed, and study the words that came out of your mouth.

Get rid of the irritating non-words and you will be a much more effective presenter.

Fripp Virtual TrainingIf you want to become a great speaker easily, conveniently, and quickly, Fripp Virtual Training can help.

“I wanted a super bowl-quality coach, and I was lucky to be introduced to Patricia Fripp. Her help in coaching and scripting was world-class. With Patricia Fripp on your team, you can go places.”
– Don Yaeger, Long-Time Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated magazine, Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, New York Times Best-Selling Author

Join FrippVT today!

Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.


Is breakfast the breakfast of champions? That depends.  

Who is delivering the feedback? Are they qualified to give it?

What is requested or unsolicited?

Many years ago, I accepted an invitation to speak at my local Toastmasters Spring Conference. They considered me a local celebrity, I had already been elected the first woman President of the National Speakers Association, and my speaking career was on the rise.

After delivering my well-received keynote I was on my way to set up for the first of my two interactive breakouts. A Toastmaster with an unknown amount of experience asked, “Can I give you some constructive criticism?” I replied, “No.” His reply was “Please.” Again, I replied, “No.” He asked, “Why?” “Because you will irritate me. I do not want to run the risk that my irritation will take away from the experience of my next two audiences.”

How to talk about yourself without feeling immodest.
When you’re asked to talk about yourself and your career history, how do you avoid coming across as dull and self-absorbed?

Have you noticed; some people are very uncomfortable talking about themselves even when they are very successful?

This may be because when you were young, your parents told you to not “Show Off.” Or you are uncomfortable when someone else drones on about themselves and all their much-exaggerated accomplishments.

I understand. However, from time to time we are all inevitably required to introduce ourselves to new colleagues, coworkers, or team members and share our career history.

What can you do to avoid coming across as overbearing and self-absorbed?

Present your career history as a story and give credit to parents, mentors, or role models. Think of everyone who helped you become who you are, what advice did they give?  Who modeled how to become successful?  Who offered encouragement when you most needed it.

Hall of Fame speaker and author Scott McKain is reading how to improve stories in Deliver Unforgettable Presentations

Techniques Behind Memorable Stories

Many presenters make the mistake of thinking that a story must be dramatic and life-changing to be memorable. In reality, we can garner meaning from simple, everyday-life stories, and that makes them relatable.

Then-Now-How Formula

This is where I was; this is where I am now; this is how I got there.

Hollywood movies have a formula for successful storytelling that we can use. The hero or protagonist in your story is not necessarily a heroic character – just the person through whose eyes we see the story. This might be you or another person.

For that, we need to provide a backstory: enough information for your audience to see the character, identify with them, relate to their emotions or situation, and empathize with them. A good way to do that is to offer “a day in the life.”

  1. Take advantage of every opportunity.

I began my career as a hairstylist. Now that I am decades into my next career, I am often asked, “Patricia, how did you become a speaker, author, and executive speech coach?” The simple answer is by noticing and taking advantage of every chance that turned up, that seemed interesting and intriguing. Opportunity does not knock just once. It knocks all the time, though you may not recognize the sound. One opportunity is to learn from successful people by finding out how they achieved their success. Behind the hairstyling chair, I learned from my clients. As a speaker, I learned about the companies and industries I was hired to speak to. Now, as an executive speech coach, I learn how innovative executives build their companies and how marketing executives design and promote campaigns. And get paid! What a bonus. The secret is to be genuinely interested and ask questions.

  1. The key to connection is conversation. The secret of conversation is to ask questions.

    Ask good questions.

Successful people will share their knowledge and experiences with you if you ask good questions that stimulate their thinking and responses. The quality of the information you receive depends on the quality of your questions. The key to connecting with others is conversation, and the secret of conversation is to ask the right questions. A conversation can lead to a relationship, and a nurtured relationship can produce amazing results.