Gestures, together with other non-verbal communication such as posture and facial expression, are an important part of body language. Knowing how to gesture for effect, on public platforms or in face-to-face meetings, will help to convey your message.

Recognizing Gestures

All skilled public speakers use gestures for emphasis. For example, John F. Kennedy used a chopping motion, while Hitler shook his fist. Devices, like smacking your fist into an open palm, pointing, or spreading your arms, can all reinforce points you make verbally. Remember that over-assertive gestures, such as banging a table, or other signs of anger, can alienate people. Also, if you do bang a table, take care not to drown your words.

Single gestures may combine to form complex patterns. For instance, in a private meeting, you may recognize a colleague is appraising you while listening to you, by the position of their fingers on their cheek or chin. However, to know whether the appraisal is positive or negative, you need to observe other signs, such as whether their legs are crossed defensively, or if their head and chin are lowered aggressively.

Giving Body Signals

Supportive gestures, such as making eye contact and nodding while somebody is talking, create empathy – unless the person to whom you are speaking can tell that you are concealing your true feelings. Everyone can control his or her body language to an extent, but not totally. Choose your words with care; being ads honest a possible, otherwise, your body language may contradict you.


If you are not sure how to behave, ask for guidance.

  1. Make sure you are not unintentionally wearing a hostile expression.
  2. Practice a range of gestures in front of a mirror to find those that look natural for you.

Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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