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Free Speech Lesson

Public Speaking- Gestures

Public Speaking- Gestures


When doing a presentation, gestures are a wonderful way to get people’s attention and to emphasize information.

Watching for gestures of professional presenters or debaters is a great way to alert you to gestures you can use. Study and engrain in your memory what you see.

Here are observations from the most recent Republican Party debate.  During the broadcast this week, candidates took the stage to present their ideas and win votes for the USA Republican Party presidential nomination.  Debate moderators and guest commentators also used gestures whenever they were talking.

My favorite observations about gesturing:

  1. When the standing presenters were not deliberately using gestures, they had their arms and hands extended down along the sides of their bodies and relaxed. The sitting moderators and guest commentators placed their arms in a relaxed position on the table.
  2. Gestures were used only when emphasizing points of their narrative.  There were not random movements.
  3. The gesture matched the verbal content.
  4. Most pleasing was when first one hand was extended forward, then the other, then both hands extended to emphasize points.
  5. Sometimes fingers and hands were formed to represent or picture an idea, such as “large” or “small” in size.
  6. Because the broadcast would be viewed on a television or computer screen by millions of people, the gestures were kept relatively close to the body. This is in contrast to large and broad gestures often used for one- person- only presentation to a large group. In this case, the large gestures can be easily seen by people in the back of the room.

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Rerun from 10/29/2015

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