Gestures in public speeches are as important as the speech itself. Through gestures, the speaker will be able to emphasize on some points and to convey the right message to the audience.
For example: saying, “We must prevail” without any movements conveys a diplomatic tone to the audience while the statement, “We must prevail” with hands pounding on a pulpit conveys an aggressive stand towards victory. Even though the statement is the same in text, they can convey a different message – all because of hand movement during the speech.
But gestures in public speech are more than just random movement of hands. In fact, gestures and movements should be done in the exact moment or else the right emotions will never be conveyed. You’ll just confuse your audience if you pump your fist every now and then without really emphasizing on anything.
Hand Gestures in Public Speaking
A hand gesture is a very effective tool in public speaking because it can move in many directions. Hand gestures can point directions, demonstrate some actions or simply emphasizing a point through additional hand gestures.
But as already indicated, not every hand movement during the speech will be helpful in proving your point. The following are certain hand movements that should never be done during the speech:
- Holding a paper – This gesture means you are not sure about what you’re saying and you need notes to be reminded on your speech.
- Mannerisms – Pinching your nose, holding your ear from time to time or scratching your head are only some of the actions that you should never do during the speech. You won’t look professional and shows uncertainty of the facts and points you’re trying to convey.
- Avoiding fist and fingers – Some actions are very uncomfortable for some audiences such as pointing fingers or using fists.
For hand gestures, consider the following movements:
- Straight from shoulders – Hand movements from the elbow is not as emphatic and convincing compared to hand movements that originate from the shoulder.
- One hand at a time – Although two handed gestures provide more movements, it would look too crowded when you move with two hands.
- Mirroring – Your hands should mirror your words especially on very important points in your speech.
Eyes and Facial Expressions
Your eyes have a very important part of your speech. It will help you connect to your audience and convey the message in a more personal level. To make this happen, your eyes should always be fixed on your audience. Eye contact should be observed during the duration of your speech. Some opted to look on walls or ceiling or at the back of the room but this is very impersonal and your audience might think that you’re thinking something else.
Facial expressions should also be considered in your speech. This type of gesture complements your speech because your feelings about certain points could be emphasized by your facial expressions. That is why concentration is important in public speeches: thinking of something else during your speech will never reveal the right facial expression. For example, you might be thinking of some problems at home while giving a motivational speech. Instead of being emphatic on your speech, you become mellow and your face would reveal that you do have some problems.
Speaking in public should never force you to stay in one place. Staying in one place in front of the huge crowd will never help you convey your message. You might have probably noticed that some speakers move back and forth in the stage so that they can connect to a large crowd easier.
Before emulating their actions, make sure that you are comfortable moving while speaking. If you think you will have some problems in moving, at least move on a limited basis so that you can connect to your audience. Move when you want a certain point to get across faster to your audience.
On the other hand, the ability to move and talk at the same time does not mean you should move in the stage. Think of the size of your audience and your stage to see if movements are appropriate. With the appropriate movement, you can help your audience understand your point.