Gesture Appropriately

Some trainers gesture a great deal, others hardly at all. One large challenge, for new and experienced trainers as well, is what to do with their hands as they speak. Some people clasp them behind their back, others in front. Some cross their arms; others rest them on a lectern or the arm of an overhead projector. (This should never be done, as it can bend the arm and make future adjustments of images onto a screen difficult). Still other trainers put their hands in their pockets, on their hips, or simply let them hang limply by their sides. A good stance is facing your learners with elbows bent and hands at about waist level in front of you. From this position you can easily gesture left, right, or in unison to emphasize a point or attract attention. For example, if asking a question from the group, you might simultaneously spread your arms and hands out, palms up, toward learners in a gesture indicating that you are giving them the floor or putting them in control. You are verbally and nonverbally eliciting a response. When asking for feedback or encouraging input of ideas, you might say something such as, "I would like to hear what you think about this" while gesturing with open arms toward your learners, then sweeping them inward toward you in a gathering motion.

As a general rule, gestures are used to highlight (similar to training aids) your vocal presentation of information. With the right motions, the hands can add punch or impact to a speech or message. Movements should appear natural and spontaneous, rather than forced or artificial. Do not wring your hands, keep fingers interlaced or clasped, crack your knuckles, pick your fingernails, play with rings, or repeat other nervous hand gestures. Use gesturing correctly to clarify or emphasize. One point to remember about using non-^"f'^r, verbal gestures is that some cues have different meanings in various cultures. Some of the common gestures in Western cultures (e.g., thumbs up, forming a circle with the thumb and index finger, or motioning for someone to come to you palm up while bending joined fingers back and forth toward you can actually offend in other cultures; see Books in Resources for Trainers in the appendices). Be familiar with possible nonverbal meanings and use gestures appropriately.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment