The Box

Hands deserve special attention while debating. Your hands accent or detract from your speaking.

As you speak, you want your hands to move naturally and with variety. Counting off with your fingers will get old fast. Common and acceptable hand movements can look like sweeping the floor or halting traffic if used repeatedly. The way to effective hand gestures is intentionally practicing or being aware of what your hands do while you speak.

A good rule for the range of your hand movements is to keep them in the “box”. The box is vertically from your shoulders to your waist and horizontally where your arms extend but still maintain a bend at the elbow. This is the area of normal, non-aggressive, non-awkward hand movements. Just think – if your hands are above your head, you look like you may attack. If your hands are wide to the sides, you look out of control. If your hands are below your waist, there is a good chance they cannot be seen or if they can, movements appear awkward.



The “box” is a suggestion for thinking about your hand movements. Some debaters can break the box and not scare the judge, but most importantly, they do it because it is authentic to them. If you naturally move your hand outside of the box, don’t freak out. Just don’t keep your hands outside waving them around like you want to scare off your opponents.

Even the box can be awkward, so remember, be natural and comfortable in all of your hand gestures.


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