If you want to make an impact when you speak, add hand gestures to reinforce your message.
Vanessa Van Edwards, founder of Science of People, studied TED Talks to determine why some TED Talks go viral and others don’t. The underlying reason, she found, was hand gestures. The most popular TED Talks speakers use an average of 465 hand gestures while the least popular speakers used only 272 hand gestures, Van Edwards said in her TED Talk, You Are Contagious. “Your brain gives 12.5 times more weight to hand gestures” than to verbal cues, she said.
In fact, when we don’t see a speaker’s hands, we get distracted and perhaps a little bit anxious. When we first see someone, the first thing we look at is their hands, said Van Edwards, author of “Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101: Your Guide to Reading People’s Nonverbal Behavior.” This goes back to our caveman days when we would check to see if someone was carrying a rock or a spear when they greeted us to determine if they were a friend or a foe, she says.
However, to make your point, you can’t just flail your hands around your body. Your hand gestures need to be intentional and reinforce what you are saying. For instance, she says, you wouldn’t hold your thumb and forefingers two inches apart and say, “I have a really big idea.” That would just confuse your audience.
Here are 16 hand gestures that will make your words more memorable.