Hand gestures in videos (use them!)

I must admit I have made a mistake.

In the early days of video making (I say early days but i'm talking about a year ago) I got obsessed with moving lights incrementally, using specific lenses and framing that I forgot about something very important - The performance. 

All that other stuff is important, but you can spend all day making things look nice and then press record and ruin it all.

'The performance' is made up of loads of things, but I wanted to concrete on one thing: Hand gestures.

Get those hands moving

Before, I would never get hands involved. Being on camera myself made me realise how odd it feels to forcibly use your hands when talking, so how could I expect others to do it at my direction?

Then one day it hit me - not using your hands when talking is incredibly unnatural.

I decided to fix it.

Do it yourself first

My first step was to try it myself. I rehearsed off camera where I could naturally say a line and use my hands.

It's really easy! I do it every other time I talk so this wasn't any different.

Then I jumped on camera and did the exact same thing. I watched back the footage and it looked really good (modest, right?).

Selling the idea

I've been filming with the same 6 or 7 people for over a year now, so for me to suddenly say 'do everything differently' was not going to happen.

We started small and tried emphasising certain words with our hands. Keeping it simple mean't that everyone could feel comfortable.

Encouraging people that they are doing a good job will fast track them to being confident and once they watch back the final video, they'll agree that it is a huge improvement.

Okay, let's do it for real

As soon as people feel comfortable, they come up with good ideas.

I now spend longer filming as we have a bunch of ideas on how to stress certain phrases, but i'm okay with that as it makes for a much better final result.

And now (after a few weeks of doing this) it's natural, normal and we aren't going back any time soon.


This also makes for some amazing thumbnails. People throwing their arms around results in an endless supply! The hard part now is choosing one.

Here are a few real thumbnails that I use on my videos

Do you use hand gestures in your videos? How have you found it? Let me know in the comments below!

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