The Speech Doctor is here!
If you want to be a great speaker, teacher, salesperson, presenter, actor, or people-person, then you are about to learn a career landmark lesson.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Treat your friends like you would your paintings – put them in the best light”.
If you want to look like fine art, then the greatest and most difficult communication technique in the world is called the Park-n-Drive. The first part of the Park-n-Drive is the Park position which means standing with your hands at your side. The second part is the Drive position which is when you gesture. We’ll get into more details on these positions below but the most important thing about both positions is the light that you display between your arms and fingers. The light will make you look like a Rembrandt with the potential to make a lot of Monet.
I had no idea the impact that light between my arms, body, and even within my fingers would play, but once I mastered it, I became a speaking phenomenon.
This article will explain to you about utilizing light in your stance, and why the right balance of light is so powerful. This understanding (or should I say EnLIGHTenment?) will allow you to forever see things differently! I will also teach you in detail how to master the Park’n’Drive technique step-by-step.
Human Beings have five senses, but sight is by far the most dominating sense. We interpret our entire world through our eyes. Nobody can see in the dark so it is the light that attracts our eyes like moths to a flame.
So, let there be light between your arms when you are standing in the Park position and between your fingers when you are gesturing in the Drive position.
I have trained millions of people in my career and not one of them knew about this technique, but it is by far the most important factor to all body language. As a matter of fact, after I teach you how light is used, you will soon see it being utilized by your favorite speakers, TV news anchors, and movie stars.
In my last blog post, we talked about crunching your big toes so that all tension goes in the bottom of your feet while also preventing your lower body from doing any distracting movement. Since all tension is now in your feet, you can now focus on your upper body being 100% tension free. This is a double-edged sword. You can’t be effective if you have movement below your waist and you can’t be effective if you have tension in your upper body. You must perform the Toe Crunch and the Park-n-Drive simultaneously to perfect your body language.
The Park Position
The Park position finds your arms completely tension free and dangling by your side. Your arms should be so tension free that if you moved or walked even a few steps your arms would sway naturally like a Weeping Willow tree in the wind.
Look at this picture. This is how relaxed your arms should be in the Park position. Most people have tension so they clasp their hands or put their arms behind their back. Letting your arms dangle and completely relax is the most important and most difficult communication fundamental to master, but once you practice, this will soon feel extremely comfortable.
The Park position is exactly how you should stand
It seems a little daunting to try to speak, act, teach, or communicate while concentrating on complete relaxation in your upper body. Here is a tip - focus on relaxing the area in between your shoulder blades. This area is about the size of a quarter, and I call it the Tension Spot. If you focus on the Tension Spot and relax it, the rest of your upper body will also relax. As a matter of fact, you should only focus on two areas of your body when communicating professionally. They are your big toes and your Tension Spot. You use your big toes for tension control and to keep your lower body still, and the Tension Spot for 100% tension free arms and hands.
When your arms are in the Park position, they dangle naturally at your side with zero tension. When you make gestures, you are in the Drive position. The Park position shows you are relaxed, comfortable, confident, and honest. The Drive position shows that you are powerful, dynamic, and in charge.
The real euphoric moment for those observing you is when you move from the Park to the Drive and from the Drive back to the Park. One of the greatest moves you can make is moving across the room with your arms dangling tension free. You look like gold.
There is no magic percentage on how often you should be in the Park position and the Drive position, but consider your goal to be 50% in the Park position and 50% in the Drive position using gestures.
The best way to train yourself is to first learn how to speak with your hands in the Park position. If your fingers move even a little then you still have tension. Learn to speak with zero movement in your arms, hands, and fingers. This separates your voice from your gestures and teaches you to perform in the Park position, which is what will separate you from the competition. Once you can do this, you can then (and only then) use gestures effectively.
Notice in the picture to your left that you can see light between her arms. This light is a huge key to looking powerful and confident, but not intimidating. People will judge you as very powerful by the light they can see between your arms.
To the right, we see there is no light between her arms so she is perceived as less powerful. Even if she's trying not to convey that, the lack of light causes your mind to immediately view her as nervous. She might be the bravest person you know, but in this picture, she's worried! The most stunning pictures of people have a component that you probably never consciously noticed before and that is light between their body and their arms.
Although light is power, the individual in the photo to our left has light all the way from his arms to the ground. This makes him look aggressive and overconfident. This man might be the friendliest man in existence, but if his arms have continuous light like seen here, you automatically assume he's cocky, arrogant, and aggressive. You want your arms to relax by your side, and you want light between your body and your arms. If his hands were relaxed against his pants he would be in a good position.
To the right, this woman has an enormous amount of light between her arms and body so she is maximizing her power. Her right arm is resting against her leg and she has an enormous amount of light showing. This is a technique often used by newscasters when sitting at a table. Her left hand is reaching and this is a great technique to show enormous amounts of light for a second or two. I love to point to the board or to a slide on the wall for a second or two because this shows an enormous amount of light and dynamic power.
In a sense, the underlying theory is that royalty commands a lot of space so the previous picture is a perfect example of beauty, grace and power.
The Drive Position
Let’s now talk about gestures and the Drive position because gestures are equally as important as the Park position.
When you Drive, you are using a gesture. You are either raising a gesture, performing a gesture, or dropping a gesture. This is your standard explanation of the Drive position.
I almost always start all communication in the Park position. I rarely gesture within the first 10-20 seconds of a presentation or even in one-on-one communication, unless it is a 30-second commercial. My Park position gives off the impression that I am not aggressive, but comfortable, engaged, and confident. The first 10-20 seconds of any presentation has the audience scanning you with their eyes and looking for any flaws. There is nothing negative at all about the Park position so once the audience quits scanning you with their eyes and are ready to listen, you are ready to drive with your gestures.
Although many speech books want you to do something dynamic immediately or say something brilliant in the first 5-seconds of your presentation, this is not what you want in a business setting. Remember, nobody is really hearing you in the first 20 seconds of your presentation because all humans are slaves to their eyes. They are watching you and not hearing you. So, it is often best to start with small talk like, “Thank you”, “It’s great to be here”, “I’m excited to speak to you today”, and just general light talking points while staying in the Park position to set a positive, but conservative, welcoming tone.
After about 10-20 seconds, I begin to gesture. It is best to start with only single-hand gestures. Bringing up both hands immediately is too aggressive to start. Because you started in the Park position, the audience will be pleasantly surprised as you make your first single-handed gesture.
The key to a great gesture is to use your elbow as the driving force. Slowly move your elbow forward as if you were reaching to shake someone’s hand while you bend your arm. This will bring your gesture up just below your chin. You want your gestures to be land below your chin and above your sternum. Unless I am pointing to the board or a Power Point slide, I keep my gestures within my body. In other words, the background of my gesture is my shirt. I almost never gesture outside my body. When someone is gesturing outside their body, it throws light out and it is distracting your message. I often imagine that I am speaking in a phone booth where I can’t really move my arms to the side. This forces me to gesture within my body. By gesturing within my body, I am showing power without the distraction of light.
Some people continue to gesture... and gesture... and gesture while they are talking. The real reason they do this is they don’t know what to do with their hands. You, however, now know where your hands should be when you are done with a gesture - they should be at your side in the Park position.
There is just as much power in dropping a gesture and going back to the Park position as there is in raising a gesture. When you are in the Park position and begin to raise your gestures, the slower the better. However, when you drop your gesture to go back to the Park position, you want to let gravity drop them like a rock. You don’t slowly move them down. You just let them drop naturally. Quite often your arm will slightly sway because you should have no tension in your upper body.
Remember! Park, Drive, and then Park again. Then repeat!
The most important part of a gesture is how your hand is positioned. You can control your hand by focusing on your pinky finger. Make sure your pinky finger is as straight as possible without having any tension. What I mean here is that you can’t completely straighten your pinky finger because then it will have tension. If you straighten your pinky finger about 80% you can keep it tension free. If you do that then all your other fingers and your thumb will be in the perfect gesturing position. So, whenever you gesture just make sure your pinky is relatively straight.
The key to the perfect gesture is to have no tension in your hand and as much light between your fingers without any tension. Again, if you try to expand your fingers to have the maximum light between them, you will find tension in your hand. So the rule is to have your fingers as straight as possible and as much light between them as possible as long as there is no tension in your hand.
In the left hand picture, there is light between his fingers, but his hand is relaxed. Although this is not a gesture because he is touching the glass, it is an example of the perfect components of a gesture. It is the light between his fingers that makes this picture amazing! Light is power.
I will generally make two major gestures and do them one after the other. The first gesture will look like a Karate chop, but with the audience seeing more of the back of my hand. I will hold the gesture still for a second or two and then touch my thumb and index finger together to transition the gesture to show more of my palm to the audience. My fingers are not quite pointing to the sky, but they are pointing upward. Then I will drop the gesture down to the Park position for three to five seconds before I do the same thing with my other hand. Then, you can throw in a few two-handed gestures.
Watch the video and the analysis below right now to see these techniques in action. Remember, you don’t have to be in a presentation to start practicing. Start by standing in the Park position at work when talking with co-workers. Then you can begin to use your gestures. It won’t be long until you notice how much better people seem to treat you. This is because you have the power of enLIGHTenment!