At meetings: Hand Signs

Several hand signs are used to make the meetings easier. Here are some basics.

I want to speak

I want to speak.

Raise your hand when you want to speak. When the facilitator nods or gives you some other sign that you have been noticed, you can put your hand down, and wait for your turn to talk.

Direct response

Direct response.

Point fingers with both hands at the person who has said something that you would like to go past the other speaking turns, in order to give important information to the rest of the meeting participants. (used to: add, correct or ask question)

I agree

I agree.

Twinkling or shaking your hands, shows that you agree with what has been said.

Speak louder

Speak louder.

Move your hands upwards, palms up, to show that you’d like for the speaker to talk louder.

Speak slower

Speak slower.

Move your hands downwards, palms down, to show that you’d like for the speaker to slow down.

I'm lost / I don't understand

I’m lost. I don’t understand.

Wiggle your fingers in front of your face, to show that you don’t follow the discussion anymore, and that you’d like to have an explanation of what’s going on.

Language / Translation

Language. Translation.

Raise your hand with index finger and thumb in L-shape. To show that you didn’t understand some words; or that you’d like to have a translation into another language; or that you need a pause in order to make a translation into another language.

Wrap it

Wrap it up. You’re repeating yourself. Nothing new is added.

Move your hands in a circle motion in front of you to show that it’s time for the speaker to move on in what they are saying, or for them to finish, because they are not adding anything new to the discussion, or they are speaking for a long time. (use this sign with caution)


Technical point. “Food is ready. House is on fire…”

Put your hands in a T-shape to interrupt the meeting with some off topic information. Examples: Food is ready. House is on fire…

We use no sign for disagreeing since people disagree on a number of things for several different reasons. In order to maintain a positive communicative atmosphere, it’s better to raise your hand, wait for your turn, and then explain why you disagree with what has been said.


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