by Brian K. Johnson

I recently observed a participant in one of our speaking skills programs, a guy well over six feet, who spent way too much time leaning on the lectern and touching the floor with one toe as he did so. All three “beginnings” I witnessed him present included a false start where his first sentence was mangled. His words didn’t flow because his hands didn’t flow; they were stuck grasping the lectern. When he backed off and gestured, he was quite dynamic and appealing. But too much of the time he was a tall guy hunched over the lectern, shoulders up to his ears, standing on one foot and toe-touching, with minimal gestures. Why?

For want of a gesture, his volume was lost. For want of a gesture, his flow was lost. For want of a gesture his emphasis was lost. For want of his emphasis, his point was lost. For want of his point, his case was lost. All because of bad advice he received somewhere along the way. Perhaps because some misinformed instructor had told him to “leave his hands on the lectern.”

We encounter “gesture deniers” frequently in our work, and we’ve written about it before in this blog. But we hear from lawyers who have been given this bad advice not to gesture so often that it warrants repeating. Read more in our post from last year. And watch Marsha Hunter explain why co-speech gesture is so important.

There is science behind the need to gesture. Don’t deny it. Liberate your gestures from the beginning and everything else will flow.