We’ve all seen people who like to “talk” with their hands.
Do you ever think about what their hands are saying? Do you ever think about what your hands are saying when you speak?
By understanding these four principles, you can decide what you want your gestures to say during your next speaking opportunity.
1. Gestures can communicate your energy level
When you move your hands, you are establishing your rhythm — your beat. If you want to communicate that you are upbeat, use more gestures. If you want to communicate that you are downbeat, use fewer gestures. Think about music — what’s the right beat for you? What’s the rhythm that’s right for your cadence?
2. Gestures can direct focus
If you are perfectly still when you speak, your audience will focus on your face — like a camera close-up. A close-up is great for capturing spontaneous expressions, communicating an intense feeling, or creating a few moments of compelling communication.
When you gesture, your audience will move to a wider shot. You can communicate more dimensionally because you have more parts of yourself to share. Gestures can also add more color and complexity to your delivery, and you can sustain engagement for longer periods of time.
3. Gestures can reinforce your message
You can drive home your message with your audience by using image gestures. Image gestures are purposeful gestures that are used to illustrate concepts. For example, if you want to explain that the prices of two different commodities are negatively correlated (one rises as the other falls), think of the image of a teeter-totter in your head. Let one hand represent commodity A, and let the other hand represent commodity B. By focusing on the image of a teeter-totter, you will move your hands in a way that illustrates your point. An image gesture like this one will help reinforce your message with your audience.
4. Gestures can establish credibility
Recently, my client described how he fished for bass. I could immediately tell that he really knew what he was talking about by the way he held his hands, as if on a fishing rod. The way he turned, the way he moved his body — you could tell he was experienced. Without a doubt, gestures can tell your audience whether you really know something or you just read about it in a book.
Gestures can be a valuable tool to help you add power to your leadership presence. By remembering these four principles, you will ensure that when you talk with your hands, people will listen.