Does this sound familiar? Whenever you have to present yourself to others – during a lecture; on a stage; or during a photo shoot – you suddenly don’t know what to do with your hands.

Arms and hands are generally not a problem in everyday life – they perform important tasks and we rarely stop to think about them. We simply use, care for, or shake them. But when we have to stand in front of others; present ourselves; or are looked at, we suddenly don’t know what to do with them. Fold them behind our backs or across our bellies? Put them in our pants’ pockets? Or even arrange them in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s famous diamond shape?

The solution is to stay cool and follow a few simple rules. Don’t gesticulate wildly with your hands when giving a lecture or during a conversation. Don’t scratch your head, even if it itches. It is more likely to make you look nervous and insecure than it is to help your lecture. Pants’ pockets are an absolute no-go! Move your hands “across your belly”. No higher but also no lower. If you do make gestures, then your palms should face upwards. This will emphasize what you are saying without appearing aggressive or untrustworthy. And yes, the diamond and similar variations are a viable option if you’re not sure what to do with your hands.

And by the way, there are also a few things you should bear in mind when you are the listener. Keep your hands above the table – in our digital era you otherwise run the risk of immediately being suspected of using your smartphone instead of listening.