How To Use Hand Gestures in Communication: 9 Top Ways

If you want to know how to use hand gestures in communication, you’ll love this article.

Hand gestures are an integral part of our communication, and we often use them unconsciously. They can serve as a supplementary language, enabling us to captivate our listeners, put them at ease, or convey a sense of power.

Given their prevalence in communication, it is crucial to use hand gestures appropriately. Whether the aim is to clarify a message, create a more reassuring impression, or exude confidence, mastering the art of hand gestures can significantly enhance one’s communication skills.

1. Hand gestures can be a powerful tool to reinforce the message you are conveying.

These gestures, also called “illustrative gestures,” can help you express intensity, confidence, and draw attention to a specific point. For instance, you can use a solid, shaking fist to drive home an essential point, but avoid coupling it with an angry tone. During a presentation, you can use your hand to highlight a particular slide or paragraph with crucial information.

Pointing is another effective gesture that can emphasize a statement or signify the significance of a message. However, be mindful not to point directly at someone as this could be perceived as aggressive or impolite.

Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that your gestures match your speech’s tone and content. Otherwise, you risk overemphasizing a point that doesn’t merit it or coming off as insincere.

2. Using open hands with palms facing up is an effective way to convey positivity, regardless of whether you are addressing a large audience or an individual.

This gesture communicates an open and welcoming attitude and can evoke feelings of trustworthiness and acceptance. When combined with outstretched arms, it can also suggest competence and efficacy.

However, if you pair this gesture with a shrug of the shoulders, it could create an impression of uncertainty or indecisiveness. Thus, it’s essential to pay attention to your body language and ensure that it is consistent with your message.

In contrast, palms facing down usually evoke a sense of authority and confidence. This posture can suggest dominance or control and is often associated with assertiveness.

3. Keeping your hands behind your back is a gesture that conveys confidence and can be particularly effective when communicating with others while walking alongside them.

By exposing your torso and leaving your hands unguarded, you demonstrate openness and vulnerability, which can help establish trust with the person you’re interacting with. This gesture suggests that you are comfortable with yourself and not concerned about protecting yourself, which can help put the other person at ease.

As a result, keeping your hands behind your back is a valuable gesture that can enhance your communication and establish a positive rapport with others.

SEE ALSO: How To Treat People With Respect: 16 Highly Effective Methods 

4. Employing persuasive hand gestures can help you appear more authoritative and persuasive in your communication.

While they cannot compensate for deficiencies in your speech, they can make you a more effective communicator.

One powerful gesture is the “steeple,” where you press your fingertips together to form a shape resembling a church steeple. This gesture is often used by people in positions of power, such as managers, lawyers, or superiors speaking to subordinates.

It conveys a sense of confidence and command over the subject matter. The steeple gesture (1) can be particularly effective in situations where you need to persuade or convince others of your viewpoint, as it gives off an air of authority and expertise.

However, it’s essential to use this gesture judiciously and not overuse it, as it could come off as arrogant or domineering.

5. Hand gestures can be a valuable tool for aiding in memorization.

Just as talking about what you’ve learned can help encode memories more effectively, gesturing while speaking or completing a task can have a similar effect. Studies have shown that people who gesture while learning or communicating are more likely to remember the information later than those who don’t gesture.

If you need to memorize something, such as a speech or directions, you can teach yourself gestures that correspond to important points or moments. Additionally, incorporating gesturing into your study habits can be a useful way to aid in memorization.

For example, people who are taught hand gestures to accompany new vocabulary and language are more likely to recall those words later on by using the gestures they learned.

This technique can also be effective when teaching children new words and sentences. By teaching them specific hand gestures to accompany the new information, the memory of it is more likely to stick.

Overall, incorporating hand gestures into your learning and memorization process can be a powerful tool for enhancing memory retention and recall.

6. Hand gestures can also be helpful when trying to recall information.

If you are having difficulty remembering something, using hand gestures can aid in bringing the words to mind. When speaking and trying to recall information, gesturing with your hands can be particularly helpful.

By incorporating hand gestures into your retrieval process, you may be able to access the information more easily and effectively.

SEE ALSO: How To Communicate Online Effectively: 14 Best Practices

7. It’s important to avoid using hand gestures that convey nervousness or diffidence.

Although you may feel comfortable speaking to someone, your body language can reveal otherwise. Certain hand gestures can indicate feelings of nervousness, timidity, or submissiveness.

For instance, placing your hands in your pockets may signal that you are anxious (2). Crossing your hands in front of your body can suggest weakness or timidity, as if you are seeking protection.

Additionally, squeezing your hands together can be seen as a self-soothing gesture that indicates nervousness or fear. It’s best to avoid these gestures to appear more confident and self-assured.

8. Although hand gestures can enhance communication, they can also become a distraction if they are not used properly.

It is important to limit your hand movements to a specific area, such as the space between your chest and waist. This helps to keep the focus on you and what you are saying, rather than your hands.

By staying within this “box,” you can avoid distracting your audience and ensure that your message is conveyed effectively.

9. Expressing oneself through hand gestures can be effective in communication, but it’s important to avoid using them as a crutch for verbal struggles.

When we stumble on our words, we may be tempted to rely on hand gestures as a sign of nervousness or distraction. However, this can actually hinder our message instead of clarifying it.

Instead, it’s helpful to slow down hand movements and use calming gestures when struggling to articulate thoughts. This can help us refocus and gather our thoughts, rather than exacerbating the communication difficulties.

Using hand gestures can be a powerful tool for effective communication, but it is important to use them appropriately. Gestures can help convey confidence, trustworthiness, and persuasiveness. They can also aid in memorization and recall of information.

However, certain gestures can convey nervousness, diffidence, or distract from the message. It is important to keep gestures within a certain area and not use them to compensate for verbal sputtering. By using hand gestures effectively, one can become a more effective communicator.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to use hand gestures in communication. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here