PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

Most speakers have just a few hand gestures that they repeat over and over.  It would be good if they developed more variety.

In my book Presentation Skills 201 I recommend simple pantomiming as a way to easily and naturally generate different gestures.  For example, you can pretend to be pushing something while talking about pushing a contract through committee.  Or, you can move your hands farther and farther apart while talking about lengthening a project’s timetable.

I was pleased to see in Allan and Barbara Pease’s book The Definitive Book of Body Language that research has actually shown that such hand gesturing increases message recall.  Geoffrey Beattie and Nina McLoughlin of the University of Manchester tested how well audiences remember information based on whether or not the presenter augmented the message with gestures.  Gesturing was shown to increase recall by up to one-third after ten minutes.

So, simple pantomiming doesn’t just create a richer variety of hand gestures.  It also helps people remember what the speaker said.

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