Body language plays a huge role in how your listener receives your message. When focusing on body language, people often focus on things like posture and eye contact. While these are certainly critical parts of non-verbal communication, there is another crucial aspect of body language that often gets overlooked: gestures.
Everyone has their own amount of gesturing that comes naturally to them. This can vary across cultures and personality types. While a certain amount of variation is natural and desirable, there are some general gesture rules that everyone can follow to impact your communication in the strongest way possible. Here are some strategies for incorporating gesture into your day-to-day professional communication:
Use gesture to highlight key points: Whether speaking to a crowd or simply one-on-one with a colleague or client, use subtle, but well-defined gestures to emphasize important points. Gesturing will help bring attention to these moments and make them more memorable for your audience.
Keep moving: While you don’t want to move constantly to the point of distraction, falling into a fixed posture can make your speech boring and difficult to focus on. Some positions can be especially toxic, for example, folding your arms, or sitting with your chin in your hands. These positions can make you seem closed off, passive, or bored. Use periodic gestures as a way to remind yourself not to fall into a fixed posture that may be detrimental to your message.
…Unless you’re the listener: When listening to someone else speak, it’s best to keep your hands and body relatively still. Subtle, interactive movements, like nodding or leaning forward can be helpful. However, many people have a habit of unconsciously fidgeting while listening: playing with jewelry, jiggling a leg, or toying with items on their desk. This can make you seem disinterested or nervous.
Enlist help: Since gesture and body language are often automatic, you may have trouble recognizing and changing your patterns. Ask a friend or trusted colleague to keep an eye on how you use your hands while speaking for a day or two. Once you have feedback about your personal patterns from an outside perspective, it can be easier to shape them to project strong, professional communication.
Want to learn more? Take a look at the following video from Corporate Speech Solutions founder and president Jayne Latz:
For information on the New York Based Speech and Accent Reduction services offered by Corporate Speech Solutions please give us a call at 212-308-7725 or visit us on the web at