Don’t Just Stand There – Use Gestures to Bring Your Stories to Life


iStock_000011098014XSmallLanguage is a more recent technology. Your body language, your eyes, your energy will come through to your audience before you even start speaking. – Peter Guber

When preparing a speech, we’re often so focused on writing and practicing the content, that we forgot one of the most important parts of our presentation – body language. I often encourage my students to insert a specific gesture in the first sentence of their speeches. This can be something as simple as saying, “Thank you for inviting me to speak today” with an open hand gesture to indicate “you.”

There’s nothing authentic about this first gesture, yet once a speaker’s hands start moving, their face becomes more animated and their voice is more commanding; they become more expressive and more engaging.

While the importance of body language is not a new concept, it is often overlooked. Over the years I’ve noticed that something remarkable happens when a speaker gestures.

If I ask a speaker to replay a part of a story they’re telling with a gesture, they inevitably offer more and richer details.  They seem to be reliving the story as they tell it and the story becomes more interesting.

This is because using gestures has an impact on your brain activity. And it’s proven, this research from the University of Alberta says “there is a connection between language and memory access and gesturing.”

The next time you’re preparing for a speech, try this: Practice once with very little body language and then try again, using your hands to animate the story.  I guarantee you’ll see a great difference and your audience will too!

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