Speaking with your hands in your pockets during conversations, speeches and presentations?

Just put your hands in your pants?
Nicht nur Wünsche lassen sich von den Augen ablesen

Just put your hands in your pockets during a presentation?


Where to put your hands in conversations and during presentations? Just put your hands in your trouser pockets and the problem is solved. Many inexperienced speakers think this is quite a good idea at the beginning. I (and most of the audience) don’t think it’s so good. Why? This question will be answered.

Having the hands in your pocket during a presentation


Since I can remember, almost in every introductory workshop of presentation skills someone asks a question about the hands and where they belong in conversations, speeches, and presentations.

A very popular question is whether the hands belong in the trouser pockets or not. Many workshop participants consider this to be quite a good idea. I think about it differently.




Why this isn’t a good idea?


Here are five reasons not to put your hands in the pockets of your trousers while speaking.




1. It leads to irritation


The unexplainable frequent digging around in the depths of the trouser pockets inspires the viewer’s imagination and thus distracts from the originally intended message.

The audience cannot know what you are doing there. They have no idea that you are just asking your lucky charm for help because of your stage fright.




2. It increases mistrust


Open palms promote trust, hidden hands mistrust.




3. It reduces gestures


Having your hands in your pockets prevents convincing body language. How can appropriate gestures support the message when the hands are gone? Good gestures require both hands.




4. It sends the wrong signal


Keeping your hands in your pockets is also a gesture that indicates that you are afraid, unsure, or not interested in the presentation. Is that what you want to convey to the audience?




5. It demonstrates a lack of respect


It is perhaps intended to look casual. Some of your audience members might find it rude towards them. It may upset them.




Where else can I put my hands?


Where else can I put my hands? Coherent gestures underline credibility, illustrate and strengthen arguments. This is precisely why the hands belong in the audience’s field of vision. I recommend individual starting positions for the hands. These can then be internalized in everyday situations, and this promotes natural gestures. What is suitable for one person is far from being suitable for another.




Be careful


General recipes often do more harm than good. An example of such a mishap is the Merkel rhombus. It has become a trademark. Some call it a running gag, but that does not make it a recommendation — on the contrary.






Do you want more suggestions for where to put your hands and how to develop strong gestures? You’ll get them from me in many of my articles. Have fun with it!

Preparation of important conversations and negotiations


Communication can be very easy. But often it is not. Sometimes we say things and then later notice from the reaction of our conversation partners that they seem to have spoken to someone completely different. I didn't say that with the best will in the world. - Or did I say that after all?

More or less consciously, conversations are about convincing other people of something - be it a special offer, your personality, a perspective, or a necessity. If this doesn't happen fast enough and above all not exactly to the point and descriptively, the person we are talking to quickly loses interest, and we lose the hoped-for opportunity. — Conversation failed.

You can let me support you in the preparation of your conversations and negotiations (to be on the safe side: no legal advice!). Find out how you and your message are perceived (arguments, body language, language, voice, and much more). I will familiarize you with effective tools and communication strategies. Develop your psychological skills, learn to stay calm, act confidently, remain authentic, and finally convince.



What do you do with your hands during a conversation, speech or presentation?


  1. In had to smile while watching the video because I tend to have my hands there. A presentation skills trainer once told me so.

  2. “hands in your pockets is also a gesture that indicates that you are afraid, unsure” – wat?
    I don’t what culture you’re talking about but in my opinion hands in pockets demonstrate rather confidence or even arrogance.

    • This can be evaluated in many ways. Ultimately, what counts is what the audience believes.


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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: March 30, 2020
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: April 15, 2021
Translation: ./.
German version:

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