Gestures

Gestures are movements that we make naturally when we speak. Some people use lots of gestures and ‘talk with their hands’. Others use more subtle gestures.

Not all gestures are universal and some have different meanings according to your culture.

Here are some common gestures that you might recognise:

GestureMeaning
Open hands, palms facing downSuggests a calm control
Arms foldedSuggests disagreement
PointingSuggests blame
NoddingSuggests agreement
Holding the chinSuggests listening closely or contemplating

You can often understand a conversation, at least in part, from gestures alone. By watching a television conversation with the sound off you can often still understand what’s going on in general. Gestures indicate emotion and that carries a great deal of information.

When you are delivering a presentation or speech think about how you can use gestures and facial expressions to emphasise certain points you want to make. Plan in advance where gestures will be effective and practise your talk as if you are rehearsing for a play.

In this clip notice how the politicians’ gestures speak as loudly as their words.

An analysis of body language from the first British televised election debates

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