Use Your Hands To Deliver A Powerful Speech

When you give a speech, your hands can help you to connect with your audience
Image Credit: Erlend

Wouldn’t it be great if the next time that you took the stage to deliver a speech, you could have somebody else come up there to help you out to communicate the importance of public speaking? This other person would always know what you were trying to say next and they would take action to communicate the same thing that you are trying to say at the very same moment. Well, things are going to get a bit crowded if you start inviting people to be on stage with you while you give a speech, but it turns out that your hands can help you to deliver your next speech even as you are talking.


The Power Of Hands

So why do we use our hands when we are giving a speech – aren’t our words enough? It turns out that there are several reasons why we want to use hand gestures when we give a speech. The first is that it can help us to engage our audience and allow them to remember what we were talking about. However, perhaps even more importantly, when we use hand gestures it helps us to remember what we want to say and to say it more clearly. A number of studies have been done that show that when we use hand gestures during a speech, they help us to encode memories of what we want to say and then retrieve them. Additionally, gesturing during a speech allows us to free up working memory resources that we can then use for speaking.

When we are giving a speech, there are two main types of gestures that we can use. The first is called beat gestures and these are simple movements that don’t have any real meaning but which are produced with the rhythm of the speech. The other types of gestures are called iconic gestures and these are meaningful gestures. For speakers, it turns out that both types of gestures can be used to help us with recalling what we want to say.

Spontaneous gestures are unplanned and they can enhance what you are saying. The result is that you’ll be able to deliver a more articulate speech. When we use gestures, we seem to be able to retrieve thoughts from our memory. Body language is generally expressed using iconic gestures. We have to be careful with these gestures because they may mean different things in different cultures. As a speaker you can work iconic gestures into your speech in order to help both you and your audience remember what you were talking about.


How To Work Gestures Into Your Next Speech

So if these hand gesture things are so great, how can we work them into our speeches? The first thing that we can do is to take the time to train ourselves to use more gestures when we are giving a speech. Add comments in your speech notes telling yourself to make gestures at certain points in your speech. Keep in mind that you may use more gestures when you are practicing and then drop some when you give your final speech. As speakers we can get new ideas by watching other speakers. Take a look at online videos of speakers delivering speeches and focus on their body language. When you see a good idea, take that idea and work it into your speech.

When we are creating a speech, we generally determine what we want to say and list out a sequence of main points. When we are planning what hand gestures we want to incorporate into our speech, we can use these main points as a guide. You should create a hand gesture for each main point in your speech. As you practice your speech, check to see if this helps you with recalling your speech. In this modern era, it is easy for any speaker to record themselves giving a speech. Once we’ve done this, we need to sit down and watch ourselves giving our speech. What you are going to be looking for is which of your gestures look natural and which ones seem forced. You also have to look out for gestures that are too repetitive.

We always want to do a good job when we take the stage to deliver our speech. In order to boost our chances of giving a good speech, we need to take the time to conduct a dress rehearsal. When you do this you are going to want to practice delivering your speech as you will be doing it on your big day. Take the time to use all of the gestures that you plan on using. By doing all of this you’ll have the ability to encode both the words and the movements into your memory and this will make delivering the speech that much easier. Getting good at using gestures will help your audience to remember your speech and it will also help you to remember what you want to say.


What All Of This Means For You

When we give a speech, our hope is that once we are done talking, we’ve been able to use the benefits of public speaking to allow our audience to remember what we told them. It turns out that if we can find a way to work meaningful hand gestures into our speech, then we will have increased our audience’s ability to remember what we told them. Using hand gestures as a part of a speech also helps us to remember what we wanted to say.

When we use hand gestures as a part of a speech, it helps us to engage our audience and to remember what we want to say. There are two types of hand gestures that we can use during a speech: beat gestures and iconic gestures. Beat gestures are spontaneous and unplanned gestures that enhance our language production. Iconic gestures are how we communicate with our audience using body language. We do need to be careful to make sure that our iconic hand gestures are appropriate for the culture that we will be presenting in. In order to fully use our hands during a speech we need to train ourselves to use our hands more. We need to take the time to learn from other speakers. We should create a gesture for each of the main points in our speech. We should take the time to observe ourselves delivering our speech. In the end, we should take the time to conduct a dress rehearsal.

Having the ability to add hand gestures to your speech is a great thing. Your hands can help you to more fully express the points that you want to communicate to your audience. As powerful as your hands are, as the case with any tool you have to take the time to learn how best to use them. Once you have mastered how to incorporate powerful hand gestures into your next speech, you will be well prepared to deliver a speech that your audience will remember for a long time after you are done speaking.


– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™


Question For You: How can you tell if your speech has too many hand gestures in it?


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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Many times when I’m talking with speakers they want to know what the next step is. They have been giving speeches for a while and they believe that they understand the importance of public speaking. They have been getting better at connecting with their audience, and although they may still have room for improvement they want to know how they can become better. The answer for them, and perhaps for you, can be a bit surprising. One of the best ways to become a better speaker is to start to write speeches for other people. It turns out that is actually quite difficult to do and because of that, you can learn a lot that will make you become a better speaker.

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