Do You Stand Like a T-Rex When You Speak?

When you speak to groups or engage in 1-1 conversations do you ever notice your arms?

Where are they and how are they helping you tell a story?

Last week I watched a video of one of my live presentations. I immediately noticed my arms. My elbows were tucked in to my sides, my hands dangling in front.

In his book, The Exceptional Presenterauthor Timothy Koegel calls this the T-Rex posture.

T-Rex public speaking posture

Do you stand like a T-Rex when you speak?

Effective body language is key for confidence and for creating an audience connection. Here is what I noticed about my arm position:

First, it was distracting.

Second, it looked like I was protecting myself. I created distance from, not a connection with, the audience.

In this video I demonstrate the distraction.

Having trouble viewing this video? Click here.

Your body speaks volumes

The next time you speak in public:

  • Notice arm positioning. Where are they and what are they doing?
  • Get curious. Are your arms helping to tell the story or are they a distraction to the audience?
  • Explore options. How can your arms and body language be used more effectively?

With this new awareness I will pay attention to how I hold and use my arms. Instead of the T-Rex, I can use my body to tell a story, create a bigger presence and a stronger connection with my audience.

Your turn

How do you hold your arms when you speak in public? Do you stand like a t-rex or do you have a more open posture? Have you ever noticed? Leave a comment and share your experience.

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9 Comments:

  • Cis

    I even dance like a T-Rex. It’s really interesting to think about. I wonder, when I’m not self-conscious if my arms are more animated? I bet they are.

    • Stacey Shipman

      Hi Cissy, You may be right about the self-consciousness. I’ve never noticed the closeness of my arms (I’m usually looking for something else) but this really struck me. Our nerves show up physically. Watching a video brings it to life. When I dance my arms are definitely not in a T-Rex position, that is one time I like to let loose!

  • Stacey Shipman

    Hi Cissy, You may be right about the self-consciousness. I’ve never noticed the closeness of my arms (I’m usually looking for something else) but this really struck me. Our nerves show up physically. Watching a video brings it to life. When I dance my arms are definitely not in a T-Rex position, that is one time I like to let loose!

  • Betty Sarmento

    I’ve been singing with a group for about 3 years now. When we sing live, we are pretty lively and I’m pretty sure our arms are not positioned too badly. But we were videotaped for the first time recently. One of the hymns was posted to YouTube which I in turn posted to FB. Yes, we so look like T-Rex except for Amy who looks like she is holding something behind her back, ready to come into karate position if someone pounces. In other words, we all look defensive in one way or another. We could really use some help with this. Check it out. There will be three more of these painful recordings. Got any ideas? Oh, loved your video Stacey.

    • Stacey Shipman

      Hi Betty! Thanks for sharing this story. Isn’t it funny how when we watch a video we see things we would never notice or think about otherwise. I really think having the awareness helps. From there you can focus on it during your next performance. May not be ideal yet, but over time and with practice you figure out what’s comfortable. Practice, practice, practice!

      • Betty Sarmento

        Yes! Actually, when we perform, we’re way more animated. This particular hymn, The Lord’s Prayer is not something to be animated about. But I do know when I am singing to an audience, I am way more connected than I was in the video. Last night we were practicing how to stand while singing that. Yes, presentation and choreography are really important! We will definitely pay better attention in the future.

  • Gary Bisaga

    It’s funny, I’ve been speaking and presenting for years and done many hundreds of presentations. But when I started speaking at Toastmasters recently, I videoed myself for the first time. The first thing I noticed was my T-Rex arms! For me, it’s basically the fig leaf gesture, but about a foot north. It has been hard to break that gesture and I’m afraid I lapse into it when I don’t think about it. Why does hands at sides feel so unnatural? Thanks for the blog.

    • Stacey Shipman

      Hi Gary – Somehow I missed this comment. I know I’m still working on my arm positions. I think I’ve heard so much about “purposeful body language” I have no idea what that really means! Always a work in progress. Thanks for stopping by!

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