Give Yourself a Hand… Literally
For a while now, researchers have known that gesturing while thinking and communicating can help with certain types of problem solving. New research from the University of Hertfordshire published in Psychological Science looked at creativity and gesturing. In two studies, Drs. Elizabeth Kirk and Carine Lewis studied the creative output and quality of children completing an activity. When their idea output was counted and evaluated for creativity, their results show that children instructed to gesture had more unique, creative ideas than subjects not instructed to gesture. Interestingly, limiting gestures did not significantly reduce creative idea production.
So in terms of presenting, this research suggests that purposefully gesturing more frequently might help you come up with more creative content in the moment. This benefit might help you in spontaneous speaking situations such as Q&A or providing feedback. If gesturing is difficult for you, start by practicing descriptive gestures when you present. That is, have your gestures mimic what you are describing with your words. For example, if you refer to your company’s growth, you can represent this growth by moving your hand and arm up and to the right. Once you are more comfortable gesturing, you can consider emphatic gestures, which add emphasis to your points. However, you should not script emphatic gestures to correspond with specific words or phrases. Scripted emphatic gestures are distracting and make you appear less authentic.