No, this is NOT a hold-up. Reaching for the sky is just one example of a powerful gesture that will liven up how you deliver a presentation. The more you purposefully gesture, the more your listeners will keep listening. The more you gesture, the more you will drive your point home. And the more you gesture, the more dynamic your voice will sound.

Exactly how do you gesture? There are two general ways to gesture. The first way is animated gestures. The second way is descriptive gestures.

Animated Gestures

Animated gestures liven up the way you look and sound when you talk, whether in casual conversation, business meetings, or formal presentations. Animated gestures are movements of your hands and arms that mirror and perhaps even shape your voice. And they add variety to the way your audience sees and hears you. They have no particular form, movement, direction or shape. Instead, your arms and hands move as a way to animate and energize you.

For example, suppose you want to emphasize a point as in, “It’s so good to see you.” To make that simple expression energetic and believable, use an animated gesture by opening up your hands as you say that phrase “It’s so good to see you.”

As another example, use an animated gesture in the question, “What really makes us who we are?” On each of the words, “who,” “we,” and “are” make a fist and drive it in a downward movement. And time the delivery of your words with each gesture as in “What really makes us who” (gesture and pause), “we” (gesture and pause) “are” (gesture and go on to the next phrase).

Descriptive Gestures

Just like animated gestures, descriptive gestures also energize your delivery. But descriptive gestures do even more. They highlight the meaning of what you are saying, they drive your point home, and they help your listeners remember your key message. The reason these gestures are called descriptive is because the movements describe the words you say.

For example, in the phrase “I’ll be covering three points today. The first point is.” Hold up your index finger when you say “first point.” Hold up two fingers when you move on to “the second point” and three fingers when you say “the third point.” In the phrase, “When we finish the presentation and you walk out of that door,” point to the door.

Another great benefit of both animated and descriptive gestures is how they energize your voice. Nothing kills attention faster than a monotone speaker. Chances are pretty good that if you stay awake long enough to look at the monotone speaker, you’ll not likely see many gestures. Dynamic speakers pepper their delivery with lots of gestures and in so doing, the gestures add richness to the speaker’s voice.

So the very next time you talk, to any one person, around a conference table in a business meeting, in a large conference room, or even in front of a camera – remember to reach for the sky.

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