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The success of your pitch largely depends on your body language. Research shows that a big proportion of our opinion on the quality of a pitch is based on body language rather than the text itself.

Well some might say the body language is a talent which cannot be learned. That’s not true.

Numerous researchers worldwide have found patterns in body language which influence the opinion of the listener. This chapter will summarize the most important body language tricks you should know before you go on stage. Make sure to practice them in front of a mirror or a video camera.

Is your startup ready to pitch?

According to public speaking expert Paul Finkelstein about 55% of a presentation is non verbal, 33% is tone of voice and only 12% is content.

Your body language beats your content. 

Paul Finkelstein

Public Speaking Expert

How to use your hands & arms during your pitch

What you should do:

1. Use a presentation clicker to give your hands a position

Many people are unsure where to put their hands. This is a fair point, since putting your hands on the wrong place can mess up your pitch completely. Get rid of this uncertainty by buying a presentation clicker.

By holding a clicker in your hand you will naturally keep your hands in front of you, which happens to be the exact right position for your hands during your pitch.

2. Show hand palms to show that you are honest

Seeing somebody’s hand palms creates a connection in a human’s brain which refers to safety. This goes all the way back to prehistory. When you get to see somebody’s hand palms you know that person doesn’t have a weapon in his hand.

Although the chances that somebody is holding a weapon are pretty low, the connection in our brain still exists. Therefore, if you want somebody to trust you, you have to show you hand palms early regularly.


3. Show your wrists to show that you don’t hide anything

The reasoning for your hand palms works as well for your wrists. In the past many travellers used to wear knives hidden behind their wrist.

To make sure your conversation partner didn’t have a knife they even invented a handshake where you grab each other’s wrist to make sure he was clean.

Even though the chances are pretty low you somebody is carrying a knife, the connection in our brain still exists. Reveal your wrists as much as possible throughout your pitch to make the listener trust you. You can do this by rolling up your sleeves when you are wearing a shirt.

4. Put your index finger to your thumb, this makes you look smart, goal orientated and sharp

To come across as capable during your pitch you should make use of a pose where your index finger and your thumb touch each other.

This is especially true when you are telling something very detailed and you want your listener to pay close attention to what you have to say.

5. Rub your hands slowly when you talk about the business model

Traditionally rubbing your hands is related to profits or benefits. You should use this to your advantage by rubbing your hands slowly during your part about the business model. When you apply this method please be careful as this could hurt your pitch a lot when misused.

Research shows that rubbing your hands fast refers to a profitable situation for the speaker, not the listener. Therefore, make sure that every time you rub your hands you do it slow.

Scientists did a research amongst car salesmen and they found that every time they rubbed their hands fast, the potential buyers were scared off more often than when they rubbed their hands slow.

6. Make your arms wide when you address an important sentence

When you come to most important part of your pitch, you should emphasize this by moving your arms wide.

By moving your arms in a wide position you suggest that the topic is very important, therefore the listener will pay more attention.

The same goes the other way around. By moving your hands close to each other you suggest the topic isn’t that important and therefore your listeners will be less interested.

Make sure not to overuse this method, as your listener will experience an ‘inflation’ of important topics.

What you should not do:

7. Don’t point with your finger, this makes you look aggressive and unpleasant


Do you remember your parents pointing at you when you did something wrong? Probably you didn’t like this when you were a kid.

The funny thing is, adults like it even less when somebody points at them when they are talking. Your listener will experience this as aggressive and unpleasant.

8. Don’t put your hands in your pockets, this makes you look uninterested and arrogant

When you are waiting for the bus or in the elevator, chances are you have your hands in your pocket.

Whenever people are bored or doing something interesting (such as waiting) they tend to close their body language. In this case it shows by hiding your hands in your pocket.

You might say: ‘but when I’m pitching I’m not bored; I just like to have my hands in my pocket’. Too bad for you, because even when that’s the case, your listener won’t know. He will just assume that you don’t care too much about this pitch, and therefore he won’t either.

9. Don’t cross your arms, this makes you look uninterested

Just as putting your hands in your pocket. The same reasoning goes for crossing your arms.

By closing your body, you give the impression that you don’t care too much about this pitch. Avoid this and keep your arms in the air.

I promised you 9 tips

But I want to thank you for reading this far.

That’s why here are 4 more tips you should use for your body language in your pitch.

These tips are all about using your feet during your pitch. The last one is about how you shoud use your face in a pitch.

How to use your feet during your pitch

10. Stand wide and steady (Bonus)

Throughout your pitch you want to have your legs in a wide, steady position. This ‘power’ pose shows you are confident and gives the listener a pleasant feeling.

11. Stay in the same position (Bonus)

When you are pitching, it’s your job to make sure the listener pays attention to what you have to say. Anything which can distract your listener from your words will hurt the quality of your pitch.

Therefore, it’s best to not move your legs during your pitch. However, when you get more comfortable with pitching there is an advanced move you can include in your arsenal, which will be discussed in the next section.

12. Walk strategically (Bonus)

As mentioned it’s best not to distract your listener by walking from one place to another throughout your pitch. There is one exception to this rule:

Move to a new spot when you address a new subject.

By moving from one spot to the other you suggest that something new is happening. Normally you don’t want to do this as it distracts your listener from your pitch.

However, when you are changing the subject in your pitch, walking 2 or 3 steps could actually help your listener understand that you are changing the subject.

I advise you to be careful with this move, and practice with this before you perform it on stage. Experiment this method in front of a group of friends and ask them afterwards if it distracted them or not.

We only laugh 15% of the time because of a joke, the rest is to make contact.

How to use your face during your pitch

13. With regards of your face there is only one piece of advice you need to remember. Smile. (Bonus)

Research shows that smiling is contagious and impacts the mental state of your listener. When you smile, your listener is likely to start smiling as well.

And because body language works two ways, your smiling listener will actually become internally happy because of his physical smile.

And as promised

Here is the infographic with the 9 tips for your bodya language in a pitch.

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✓ Things you should NEVER say in your pitch

✓ How you can manipulate with your body language

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