Saturday, April 9, 2011

How to Use Gestures in Public Speaking

Have you ever tried cooking without the use of salt and pepper? How did the food taste? Bland would probably be an understatement. Perhaps tasteless and unsavory would be more appropriate. Seasoning is what makes food delicious and tasty. Without it mealtime would be a dull affair.

When it comes to public speaking, our gestures are the seasoning that we can put in to add zest and life to our speech. The art of public speaking is more than just you talking in front of a bunch of people. It’s about communicating to them. It’s about imparting your thoughts in a way that the audience can understand and appreciate.

A speech done without using the appropriate gestures leaves much to be desired. However, don’t get too carried away in using gestures either. Just like seasoning, too much of it can ruin the entire meal.

What are gestures exactly and how can you use them to improve your speech? A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication which conveys specific messages and a wealth of meaning. It can be used together with spoken words and body language. Gestures permit speakers to express different kinds of thoughts and feelings, from affection to anger to scorn. Gestures are considered as the most basic form of body language.

Most gestures are limited to the hands and arms. They can help place emphasis on the most salient points of your speech. However be cautious. Using the same gestures too often can end up distracting and irritating your audience.

There are two main kinds of gestures:

·         Emphatic gestures are more subjective in nature. They communicate the things that you feel. They give force and power to a speech. In using emphatic gestures, be more spontaneous. As you speak, let your emotions guide you. Make sure that it blends in with your message. Otherwise, your gestures may end up looking stiff and out of place. If you are not accustomed to using gestures, don’t despair. Look at videos of public speakers and see how they use their hands and arms to convey their message. Then practice until it starts to feel more natural.

·         Descriptive gestures are by nature, more objective. They convey size, location, position and direction. For example in describing an elephant you can open your arms wide to express to your audience how large it is. Descriptive gestures make the characters and objects in your speech appear more vivid and lifelike.

The use of the right gestures in delivering a speech is vital because it communicates your conviction and enhances your point. You might feel a bit uncomfortable in the beginning but as you make it a point to use it often it will slowly start to become second nature.
Got stage fright? Read this post and learn How To Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

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