‘I’ve never thought about it before’
If you’re a 30 Rock fan, you may remember why Jack should never be allowed on live TV. He’s referring to having never thought about where his arms are supposed to go. He’s simply working on camera as a SPOKESMAN for GE. Should be a no-brainer. If you haven’t seen it, or don’t remember, here it is:
Of course Jack’s challenge in that clip is an exaggeration. Obviously. It’s funny because it’s a crazy exaggeration. Or is it?
The button on the joke is that it took 5 Days to finish a short promo. Five days. I’ve been on shoots that took way longer than expected, but we didn’t lose days because the lead wanted to hold two coffee mugs to feel more natural. On those shoots and many others, I’ve been approached and asked the question that bonds all on camera appearances:
‘What do I do with my hands?’
That is the single most common question I’ve gotten with my media coaching clients. Athletes, executives, engineers, thought-leaders, doctors, marketing specialists, salespeople. Everyone.
And the ANSWER I give EVERYONE is the same:
‘How do you normally talk?’
If you’re a handsy talker, use your hands. If you’re not, don’t.
Well… it’s simple but it’s not absolute. What ever is?
So be natural, and also be aware that there are technical elements to consider.
Are you standing?
Sitting behind a desk?
On a director’s chair or bar stool?
Part of a discussion panel?
On a web cam for a remote hit?
An interview guest on a couch?
Those answers and where the cameras are will help you know how to use your hands. Lots of hand movement might block your face from the cameras and that’s not ideal. If you’re sitting in a casual environment, and not moving your hands at all, the audience may become concerned you’ve been injured or abducted.
So you be you. And let your hands do what they want. Just know that they’re telling your story too.
And don’t put them in your pockets. Just don’t.