Gesturing may help you speak better, research says

People often believe those who gesture do so when they’re struggling to find the right words. However, research indicates that those who gesture actually speak more smoothly than those who don’t.

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Coyote and Roadrunner were the original action heroes. Their show had falling anvils, rocket cars, exploding kegs of TNT and anything else Coyote could order from Acme to catch that beep-and-run bird. I’ve always had a soft spot for Coyote, but maybe Roadrunner had the best strategy: keep moving.

When some people speak, they grip the podium to steady themselves and their speech. Some people can’t keep their hands off the laser pointer, and others force their arms down to their sides, lest their hands fly up and hide their words in a nervous flutter. But if you’re looking for a way to get your words out with the minimum amount of “ums” and awkward pauses, gesturing could be just the help you’re looking for, researchers say.

Psychologist Frances Rauscher and her colleagues asked Columbia University students to watch a few minutes of a classic Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon, and describe the epic battle to a listener. Some the students were allowed to gesture while telling the story while others had to keep their hands still.

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