The Use of Gestures in Public Speaking

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Gestures are the movement of some parts of the body such as the head, the shoulders and the arms that are essential in order to convey meaning as well as emphasis in public speaking.

Gestures can be classified into two; the descriptive gestures and the conventional gestures.

The descriptive gestures are done by imitating the movements of certain objects or things. The speaker may use the descriptive gestures by imitating the punch of a boxer through striking a punch unto the air. By sweeping the arm quickly, the speaker could be able to imitate the speed of a car. These are just few things among the many descriptive gestures that a resourceful speaker can make.

The conventional gestures summed up the basic movements of the hands and arms into six movements namely; pointing, giving or receiving, rejecting, challenging, cautioning and dividing.

In the gestures for pointing, it is proper to use the index finger in order to indicate direction, in calling attentions to objects or in giving an emphasis in an accusation or warning.

In the gestures for giving and receiving, it is nice to use the palm of the arms by facing it upward. In order to convey giving, the speaker may use the elbows, moving it away from his or her body. In order to convey receiving, the speaker may use the elbows and moving it closer to the body. The gesture for receiving is mostly evident when the speaker appeals for the audience’s support. The gesture for giving is mostly done when the speaker gives something to the audience like donating something and many else.

The gestures for rejecting is done by turning down the palms of the hands, sweeping from the right or left shoulders and diagonally cutting across the body; of course accompanied by impression of denial.

The gestures for challenging may be done by emphasizing a clenched fist accompanied by expressions of a strong feeling.

In the gestures for cautioning, the speaker may emphasize a movement of his or her hands with the palms going down.

In the gestures for dividing, the speaker may move his or her hand with the palm vertically held; doing this will allow the speaker to give emphasis on how some fact or ideas are divided in different parts.

The conventional gestures are not fixed, meaning, they do not always start from same position and the sequence can usually be done from left to right or vice versa.

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