Saturday, June 9, 2012

Appropriate Gestures While Public Speaking


Research psychologist, Albert Mehrabian, is best known for his "7%-38%-55%" rule which states the following regarding human communication:

  • 7% - the actual words being spoken
  • 38% - the vocal tone
  • 55% - body language

Although this rule is often misinterpreted or overly simplified, it does allow us to see that our gestures are a very important part of what we have to say. An appropriate gesture can give your audience confidence in you and your presentation and demonstrates authority of the topic.

Generally, gestures will be made with your hands and will increase the impact of your statements. Not every motion has to be in-your-face and big.  Most are slight hand movements or a head nod that are naturally appropriate to your personal style of speaking and some may be larger gestures that help pack a punch.

Your movements should feel natural to you and if not, don’t use them or create something different with the gesture.  Practice your presentation as if you are speaking with a friend. Generally, we all use gestures when we are speaking and don’t even realize it.

No matter what the subject, we should always be passionate about the topic when public speaking. You will discover that natural gestures are in abundance if you are passionate. For those that generally do not use much gesturing when speaking day to day, you may need to be more conscious and practice in front of a mirror or to a friend.  There are some folks who are overly animated and it could be a distraction to the audience. They  may need to pull in the size of their gestures to maintain the importance of what they have to say to avoid distraction by the audience.

Your audience will be drawn to you when movements are used fittingly. Make an impact with your next presentation with appropriate gestures.

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