In the Netflix series The Crown (Season 4) Princess Diana is coached on deportment. In one scene, Diana rehearses a speech she will give in support of her husband’s charity. Her coach tells Diana “You use your hands far too much…our gestures reveal us…best not to give that away…one should never try to show one’s emotions.” When speaking, have you felt the same or received similar comments?
The coach then ties a rope around Diana’s arms to keep her from gesturing altogether. Diana’s verbal delivery immediately becomes sedate and monotone, because Homo Sapiens require their hands to illustrate and emphasize. Unfortunately, amateurs like Diana’s coach still abound in today’s political campaigns, non-profits and the corporate world.
Certainly, we should be mindful not to overuse gestures so that they become the focus, not the punctuation to the spoken word. But gestures-- natural and appropriate, engage an audience, demonstrate authenticity, and utilize the expressive machine we have from the neck down. Exercise care to avoid being repetitive or using meaningless gestures, like pointing with a closed fist by politicians. Watch professional actors on stage, television or film. Chances are you won’t notice their gestures because performers are trained to make them an integral part of the character and never to distract.