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Be Instantly More Persuasive with this 1 Simple Tip

Written by Rebecca Okamoto on April 19, 2016

OMG.... that made a HUGE difference

This thought is racing through my mind as I’m wrapping up my workshop.

It’s always been a popular program.

But this time...

Something was different.

I felt a connection with my audience that I hadn’t experienced before. Participants competed to speak first, and afterwards, people raced to the front to tell me how I resonated with them.

I was astounded.

I made one small change and I was instantly more persuasive:

I spoke with my palms facing up.


Palms up?

Yep. One simple hand gesture made a the huge difference in how I engaged my audience.

It started with a Ted Talk

About 9 months ago I watched a Ted Talk by Allan Pease called, Body language, the power is in the palm of your hands.

Mr. Pease talked about how critical our hands are in communications. He emphasized how simple hand positions can make or break how we’re perceived.

Then he demonstrated it.

Mr. Pease gave a set of instructions to the audience 3 times, changing only the position of the palms of his hands:

  • Palms up.
  • Palms down.
  • Pointing.

The impact was instant.

With palms up he sounded likable, and people were agreeable to his requests. With palms down he seemed bossy. And when he pointed… he sounded condescending and directive.

He cited a study where people listened to a speaker whose palms faced up. The audience had better retention compared to those who listened to a speaker whose palms faced down.

Up to 40% better.

The worst retention was for a speaker who pointed, and that speaker was described in unflattering terms.

The position of the palms was the difference between listening to the content versus judging the speaker.

I was hooked and had to give it a try.

My predominant presentation style has always been palms down, and I had a habit of pointing to create more emphasis. Somewhere along the way I thought this gave me more command of the room.

It never occurred to me that these gestures might make me less persuasive, or worse, be viewed as condescending.

So before my next workshop I practiced speaking with my palms up until it felt comfortable. Then I debuted my new style, and had an eye opening realization.

It works.

Since then I've been incorporating it more and more into my every day interactions, and it's become my new go-to style.

Every day we speak volumes without saying a word

Most of the time we don't even realize it.

An oft cited statistic is that communication is 55% body language.

If I didn't believe it before, I believe it now.

Imagine if we harnessed the power of our body language.

What more could we be saying?

Here's the Ted Talk with Allan Pease - It's a super investment of 15 minutes.

Looking for more ways to connect with your audience? Take a look at these Evoke posts

“Pitch How to Turn Your Pitch into a "Tell me more" Moment

“Paul How NOT to Present to the CEO

“Amplifier The 7 Deadly Speaking Mistakes

Check out the Unlock Your Potential page for more insight and inspiration.

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I'm Rebecca Okamoto and I'm on a mission to unlock career potential.


I'm a career and communications coach, and I help my clients turn their communications into a competitive advantage.

Do you have something to say, but struggle to say it? Contact me at reo@evoke.pro to get more information or find about my popular workshop, "How to say who you are and what you do in 20 words or less".

Photo / clement127 Free hugs? on flickr

Free hugs?

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