Would you like to know one technique that can help you better:
- learn your presentation?
- remember your presentation?
- facilitate your audience’s learning and recall of your material?
The powerful technique is to use body movement and gestures.
Perhaps you may recall learning gestures to a song as a child, or helping children learn something by associating movement and gestures with words. This technique isn’t just for children!
Gestures help you access memory and language and help your audience understand and remember your message.
Numerous studies have shown a positive effect in using gestures to encode memories (get them into your memory), to retrieve memories (to recall them) and to decode information for the listener (i.e. help your audience understand the information). Spontaneous, unplanned gestures can enhance your language production, but specific, defining gestures can enhance memory.
At a presentation on public speaking skills that I gave last week, my speech had 3 supporting points, each with a specific, defining gesture:
- Focus on your audience (I looked through a circular “thumb and finger” gesture–as shown in the picture above)
- Internalize, don’t memorize your material (This was a three-part gesture. For the word “internalize,” I held my hand over my heart and for the word, “don’t,” I used that same hand, along with my other hand to make brief, horizontal cutting gestures and then for “memorize,” I tapped my temple while shaking my head).
- Tell a story (for this phrase, I held my hands like an open book).
Then, in the conclusion, I used each gesture again as I touched on the 3 points.
The biggest value in using these gestures was that they really cemented the 3 points in MY memory. They were the mental hooks on which I hung my speech.
A note of caution: the gesture, even if planned, must flow naturally as you speak. Practice and video yourself.
Try using a specific, defining gesture for each of your points in your next speech to make your message memorable to your audience and yourself!