How to Gesture And Double Your Communication Skills

Adults are learners too, so how do we get our point across (comprehension)
without sounding like a dominating school teacher?

If you visit your doctor and he says your x-rays are Benign, you are a lot
happier than if he says the results are Malignant, right?

Benign means Healthful, Good, Favorable or Friendly. Malignant, on the
other hand, means Bad, Harmful, Diseased or Lethal. But you know that.

What if your doctor says the results are Benign, and air-writes with his
index finger the capital letter B plus the number Nine (B + 9), and smiles?

Speech plus gestures places the experience in long-term memory and
improves communication up to 3x. Whether you want to influence,
persuade or convince a kid or adult, using gestures together with words
(verbal representation) almost triples their learning function.


Our ancient ancestors about 200,000 years ago broke away from chimps
and apes by cooperating on the hunt and bringing home the bacon.
They used their fingers, hands and facial expressions to become organized
predators that could take down a Hairy Mammoth.

Imagine one small Homo sapiens attacking an animal the size of our
present-day elephant in Siberia, North America or Northern Europe.
Our solo ancestor was not coming back from the hunt.

Put a band of us with spears and communicating (before speech) with
hand signals like pointing and waving, and we bring back meat for the
entire tribe for a month. Later we used whistles, grunts and yells to
surround the prey and snuff them.

Still later, combining speech and gestures prevailed and we became King
of the Savannah

Rude Not To Point

Whatever makes folks understand better and encode new knowledge for
long-term memory, makes you a smarter communicator in your career
and personal relationships.

Our brains learn best from mental pictures. If you want comprehension
of a new idea or plan, you require an image or mental movie. If you read
or hear the word Cow, you brain produces a picture of one.

If the concept or word is new to you, (say – rejuvenate) your PFC (Prefrontal Cortex) must imagine a new image to link the idea to a picture or you do not understand or remember the concept.

If you hear Rejuvenate it may mean nothing, but if you link a picture of a youngster to the verb, you got it locked because it means to be young.

When you are referring to a person, location on a map or an object and use
words alone, you are under-performing. Use your index finder and point
to the spot and say aloud – There! Now you have made an emphatic statement.

Dr. Spencer Kelly, Colgate University has published in Psychological Science,
2010, 01.05 an article called Speech And Gesture Mutually Interact to Enhance


Good speakers who want promotions in their career will consciously use hand gestures. It may be ludicrous, but pointing to your throat and making a gagging
gesture conveys your opinion of your competitor better than verbalizing along the phrase, “They do bad work.”

Which will be remembered 12 months from now – the words alone or the gagging
gesture plus the single word “ugly!”?

Chopping and washing are easy hand gestures. How about calling someone a
Nose-Picker and pointing to your own nose. One that we use in speed reading is tracing in the air with your index finger – underlining the words of a sentence
on an imaginary page. The tracing is equal to the real experience of practicing.

Very serious stuff: it involves Memory Neurons and Motor Neurons for improved
learning and memory. Using your imagination is equal to practice, repetition and
self-assessment. It produces mastery of a subject.

Congruent Means Agreement

When the spoken words and the gesture MATCH each other, comprehension is doubled for both students and adults. Your brain becomes integrated (unite, combine, merge), in Alignment (like a car) and Synchronized (in-sync). You are smarter because you are a great communicator.

Who Cares

Teachers, students, political speakers, TV advertisers, and executives who want
to motivate, influence and persuade, right? What about your career? One-word
answer – promotions.

Remember the old commercial for the Yellow Pages – “let your fingers do the walking?” Here we learn to let your HANDS do the talking.


The University of Chicago and lead author Susan Goldin-Meadow produced
research published 3.06.09 in the journal Psychological Science. The title is
Gesturing Gives Children New Ideas About Mathematics.

Kids were separated into three groups: first: taught the words, “I want to make
one side (of the equation) equal to the other.” Second group: the same aforementioned words plus hand gesture of a V-shape with their fingers,
point at the answer space (blank). The third group were taught the words, but
focusing attention on the wrong set of numbers.

It really is not complicated and the results were powerful. Use the correct gestures
and link it with the right words and you win all the marbles by almost 3x. The gestures permitted the kids to extract correct knowledge from what they were taught.

Learning is summarizing (abstracting) the key information from what you hear
or read. It was their own hand gestures that produced positive results, not the brilliance of the teacher. Coda: gesturing influences and expands learning and memory.

We have recommended the use of gestures to executives in Fortune 100 companies.
They now suggest it to all their people as a positive strategy.


If you could read and remember three (3) books, articles and reports in the time your peers can hardly finish one, would that be a competitive advantage to obtain
promotions in your career? Could your knowledge skills use a boost to make you an
expert instead of just an average learner?

Ask for our free report on speed reading strategies to improve your personal productivity. Only do this if you are going to use your brain for the next ten-years.
Move on it now, or forgetaboutit.

See ya,

copyright © 2010 H. Bernard Wechsler

Author's Bio: 

Author of Speed Reading For Professionals, published by Barron's.
Business partner of Evelyn Wood (1909-1995)creator of Speed Reading.
Graduated 2-million including the White House staffs of four U.S.
Presidents: Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon-Carter.