12 tips for using gestures in your speech

Did you know that if you mimic the gestures of your listeners they will be more receptive to your message? Read on for more gesturing gems.

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You carry three important sets of tools with you into every presentation, speech or informal talk: your arms, hands and fingers.

With them, you can gesture to add color and emphasis to your words. The advantages are two-fold—gestures not only help you produce words, but they help your audience understand your message. This holds true whether the gestures are generic or specific to your point.

Think of gestures as a way to help the audience “see” your point. Use these 12 tips to do it well:

1. Know the importance of gestures. Gestures don’t just contribute to your message. They may actually help you think during your speech, says this book from a researcher who looks at gestures and how they help us speak.

2. Understand where gestures originated. When you shrug your shoulders and turn both palms up, you repeat what might be the oldest gesture of all—one that signals you won’t hurt the person in front of you. Researchers think gestures may have been the beginning of human speech.

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