9 Crazy Facts About Hand Gestures

We all do it.  Sometimes without even knowing it.  You may be unconsciously communicating in ways you don’t even realize.  How?  You speak with your hands by using hand gestures.  This study by the Journal of Pragmatics discovered that hand gestures actually increase the value of the message we are trying to convey by 60%!

Think about it.  If you had to keep your hands behind your back while telling a story, would you be able to get your point across?  Science of People analyzed hours upon hours of TED Talks and found one common pattern all the speakers had in common:  the most viral TED Talks were the ones where they spoke with their words and their hands.

Based on this research, they established the following stats:

    • The most popular TED Talks used an average of 465 hand gestures
    • The least popular TED Talks used an average of 272 hand gestures during their 18 minute talk

If you use hand gestures and are plagued by sweaty hands, read this blog post to discover 4 remedies on how to stop sweaty hands.

With these stats in mind, you can begin to realize how important gestures can be to powerfully communicate the messages you are trying to send. There is a lot to this type of gesturing, and we wanted to share some of what we believe to be the most interesting takeaways we’ve uncovered in our research!

9 Interesting Facts About Hand Gestures

  • You start speaking with your hands at birth! Studies have shown that infants who use hand gestures at 18-months will develop greater language abilities as they grow older.
  • Hand gestures command attention. They can express attitude, emotion, emphasize importance, show shape, direction or approval.  You can accentuate your point of view with intentional hand gestures that emphasize what you need and main points.
  • Hand gestures come to us all naturally, even without thinking about it. Even someone who is blind will use hand gestures.
  • Your memory can be impacted by hand gestures. People are able to learn and remember information from the gestures they see and produce.
  • We tend to use hand gestures most when giving directions or instructions.
  • If you have trouble finding the right words to get your message across, you are more likely to use hand gestures more than others.
  • Bilinguals are more likely to use hand gestures than those who only speak one language.
  • Hand gestures with your palms showing signal openness and being truthful—showing you have nothing to hide.
  • Over-gesturing—think hands raised above the shoulders—can appear erratic and make you seem less believable.

Whether intentional or second nature, hand gestures help us think and help the listener understand what we’re trying to say. Try incorporating hand gestures into your conversations this week and see what impact it can have!

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