Sunday, December 15, 2013

Illegal use of the hands?

Use of a few natural gestures can make a speech more effective. Referees at football games use a standard vocabulary of them, as shown on a for Dummies web page. Illegal use of hands (illustrated above) is one.

Overuse of gestures can hurt an otherwise excellent speech. Ten decades ago, on page 128 of his 1903 book Public Speaking: A Treatise on Delivery: with Selections for Declaiming Edwin Du Bois Shurter warned to: 

“Avoid using too many gestures. As in other elements of expression, too many gestures lose their force by monotony. You have seen speakers who were continually waving their arms and hands, producing a sort of windmill effect. Do not think that every idea must be painted on a banner and waved at the audience, or reflected in some way in the action.”

Earlier this month Brian Tracy posted the following three minute video on YouTube about 3 Key Components to Improving Your Public Speaking Skills. Watch it, and see if you think he’s using too many gestures or just enough. (Note that at 1:24 he almost makes the “concrete mixer” gesture for a False Start in football).

If you use lots of gestures, then you also need to be careful not to partially hide them (like behind a tall lectern), as happens when the camera zooms in for close-ups at 0:23,1:26, and 2:08.  

On October 1, 2012 Nick Morgan’s Public Words blog had a long, thoughtful post about How to master your gestures to become a more effective communicator.

No comments: