Break Free From "The Box"

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Last night, a steady stream of ghouls, zombies, and werewolves crawled the streets, making wild gestures to add to the believability of their characters.  Speakers looking to command similar attention and engagement from their audience must also pay attention to their hands and arms when presenting. 
This action is known as gesturing, and it is more important than you think. 
 
When you are giving high stakes presentations, effective and authentic gestures can make or break your opportunity to enhance your believability and create the perfect impression.  These benefits are intuitive.  But gesturing doesn't just entertain and engage the audience; it also positively impacts the speaker.
 
Researchers at the University of Gothenberg explored the power and utility of gestures by comparing speakers who were permitted to gesture with those that were instructed to keep their arms at their sides.  Most importantly, speakers allowed to gesture had better fluency and word usage, and their presentation performance was markedly improved across the board.
 
With benefits on both sides of the presentation equation—audience and speaker, gestures are vitally important, but just how to gesture can also be challenging.
 
In a problematic gesturing syndrome we call “the box,” many speakers get stuck gesturing immediately in front of them with their elbows pinned to their sides.  This forces all their gestures to take place in an imaginary and highly limiting 2’x2’ box in front of their torso.  Such limited and repetitive gestures are counterproductive—they actually make the speaker smaller and less engaging to the audience.
 
Breaking out of the box with natural movements that extend beyond your body’s boundaries is essential to engage your audience, emphasize critical points, improve your authenticity, boost your fluency and word usage, and generally take control of the room.
 
Don’t be an ineffective armless zombie, instead, break free from the box and use gestures to create the public speaking impression you want.

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