Gestures are powerful reinforcing agents in communication, for they indicate that the significance of a thought has caused the speaker to react, and this tends to indicate the same kind of reaction in the audience.
The Uses of Gestures
Gestures are used according to the ideas to be expressed as follows:
1. To point out the location of objects usually in the sight of the audience but they may be in the imagination: Called the locative gesture, this gesture makes use of the index finger, the whole hand, the head, and the eyes to show the audience what to look at.
2. To give emphasis to statements or to ask questions or to entreat for something: The emphatic gesture does this function. The open hand is used for entreating, or asking question, or accentuating ideas or feelings. The clenched fist, for force or violence of emotions or ideas.
3. To picture an object: This picturing gesture makes use of both hands or the open hand in constructing an image of the object for the audience to visualize.
4. To stimulate the imagination: Speakers use the suggestive gesture consisting of either the open hand or both hands to appeal to the imagination by the use of movement.
5. To supplicate or to plead: Usually, this supplicating or pleading gesture makes use of both hands for forceful expression of ideas.
The Principles of Effective Gestures
Effective purposeful and graceful gesturing during the moment of delivering ideas is governed by four distinct principles:
Integration - this principle demands that every gesture should be a part of the whole body reaction to the thought presented: hence, every gesture and thought should be one only. The speaker must remember that his thought and his gesture must be integrally one only, i.e., gestures spontaneously created must be an integral part of communication. Otherwise, if the gesture represents one thing and the voice says another, then no meaning is seen by the audience and the purpose is lost. Besides, speakers appear ridiculous and become the laughing stock of their audience if there is no integration between thought and bodily movement during communication of ideas.
Coordination - this principle demands perfect movements of the hands in consonance with the voice. Hence, the speaker must bear in mind that the gestures must be spontaneously created and executed with minimum effort, with grace, and with meaning through a perfect coordination of bodily movements with voice. Lack of coordination results in awkward, jerky, ugly, and purposeless gesturing. The speaker is not at all gesturing but gesticulating.
Timing - this principle requires precision in the execution of the gestures in terms of time. In a split second, the gesture must precede the ideas to be uttered so that the gestures pave the way for the clear and concrete visualization of ideas. Wrong timing results in misinterpretation or distortion of ideas.
Reserveness - this principle requires perfect control of the gestures for effectiveness of ideas. Gestures that are not controlled will result in callisthenic performances. The speaker must remember that the more disciplined the gestures, the more effective they are.
Indeed, gestures are powerful reinforcing agents in communication, for they indicate that the significance of a thought has caused the speaker to react, and this tends to indicate the same kind of reaction in the audience.