Haptics – Seal the deal with a good Handshake


We have discussed the importance of a good first impression, but your last impression before exiting a competition room, professional presentation, or interview is just as critical. Take note.

In North American culture it is customary to close a personal encounter with a handshake. Here’s where the study of haptics applies. Haptics refers to a form of nonverbal body language which involves the sense of touch. Fascinating studies have been conducted about this method of communication, and in this millennium it is gaining more and more attention as various properties of touch apply to fields like computer technology, engineering, medicine, and more. Take a look at this article to see what I mean.  Link  Interesting yes, but not exactly what we are talking about in regard to public speaking.

Here’s what national forensics competitors should consider. It is important to close with a firm, confident handshake as you say farewell to your judging panel before exiting the room. The handshake provides an element of touch that will send a closing message of its own. It can leave an impression of poise, polish and good will if done properly. Have your handshake checked before coming to the tournament. Practice with a parent or coach. You can read about the handshake and study its nuances in books and on-line, but here is a quick review.

A good handshake should be…

  • from the elbow; not from the shoulder or wrist
  • web to web
  • 1-3 seconds in length
  • firm (but not crushing)
  • with eye contact (eye-to-eye; never look at the hand)
  • with a smile

Your handshake will leave a final impression. I’m sure it will be a good one!