(Archived January 1, 1998)
The language of the hands is learned before speech. It starts in the womb and is demonstrated immediately at birth. It continues to develop right up to the moment you give a speech and then amnesia sets in.
Marie Wallace has enjoyed a fulfilling career as a librarian, beginning in 1951 in academia with the University of California and transitioning in 1971 into the private law library world until her 1995 retirement from O’Melveny & Myers. She is the 1997 recipient of the American Association of Law Libraries’ highest honor, the Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award. Throughout her professional life, Marie has been a guiding force in the Southern California Association of Law Libraries, Practising Law Institute’s programs for law librarians and Teaching Legal Research in Private Law Libraries (TRIPLL).
Today, Marie has commenced on a new path she terms “Life in Progress,” which enables her to pursue a diversity of interests as a master swimmer, law librarian, trainer, storyboarder and designer of wearable art. She continues to be a dynamic speaker and prolific writer on such topics as private law library management, presentations and training. She is a member of Toastmasters International and is active with the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) and in continuing education for private law librarians. She devotes her “free” time to various non-profit and civic activities. Always open to new ideas, Marie can be reached at: [email protected].
Experts tell us body language accounts for between 65% and 55% of our communication. Just what is body language? It is carriage, facial expressions, eye contact and gestures. All go into establishing your presence and making a connection with the audience. Gestures can be made with your hands, arms, shoulder, torso, legs, feet or a combination of these but hand gestures are probably the most common.
When you are preparing a speech, what proportion of time and effort do you give to the movement and cadence of your hands? If you are like most people, the answer is not much. Yet appropriate use of your hands appreciably increases understanding and retention of your message. Here is a handful of tips to reveal what’s in your hands.
Benefits of Hand Gestures
Use Hand Gestures to
Roadblocks to Hand Gestures
What to Do Until Your Nerves Settle Down
Deliver presentations with hands relaxed at your sides.
How to use gestures after you learn to relax
Hand Gesture Caveats
Law librarians frequently give demonstrations–the How To speech. The hands are automatically engaged with the item demonstrated. The demo will be improved if you refine your gestures and practice them to match your words. Even something as routine as turning on the computer can be done with drama, humor, or a surprise perspective.
Think of hand gestures as a camera. It’s in your hands. You can use it to frame, to zoom in on or to pan your subject. Hand gestures help Picture Your Speech.
Use this Checklist of Opposites to Develop Your Hand Gesture Vocabulary
|Quick and short
|Slow and sustained
|Hand with rigid wrist
|Hand with flexible wrist
|Arm not engaged
|Hand as unit (fist)
|Hand with fingers extended
|Elbow not engaged
|Fingers as unit