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Use Your Personal Equipment to Engage Your Audience!
Frank DiBartolomeo --  Presentation Coach For Technical Professionals Frank DiBartolomeo -- Presentation Coach For Technical Professionals
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Centreville, VA
Sunday, August 15, 2021


“If language was given to men to conceal their thoughts, then gesture’s purpose was to disclose them.”

– John Napier

If you were in your audience, what kind of speaker would you enjoy listening to more – one who has no gestures or is a master at gesticulation – the practice of using gestures? My guess is the master of gesticulation would be your strong preference.

You, as a speaker, have personal equipment you carry everywhere that will significantly increase the success of your presentations.

That personal equipment is your arms and hands.

The movement of your arms and hands synchronized to the points you are making in your presentation will allow you to strongly engage with your audience.

This article will explore the purpose of gestures, how to increase your gesticulation with your audience, and how practicing your gestures makes them your own.

Purpose of Gestures

If you don’t use gestures during your presentations, you might as well have a recording of your presentation playing on a stool on the stage.

Your presentation is much more than the words you speak. Your presentation is you. Your audience has not come to hear a recording of you. Instead, they have come to see, hear, and feel your presence among them. Gestures add to the feeling they get in a significant way.

Last Saturday night, my wife, Elaine, and I went to a concert of Billy Joel’s music. We had a great time. Although we would have enjoyed listening to Billy Joel’s music on a good sound system, it does not compare to seeing, hearing, and feeling a live band playing his music.

It is the same when you deliver a presentation. Your audience can see and hear you on a prerecorded video, but they can’t feel your presentation unless you deliver a live presentation.

Gestures enhance that feeling for your audience.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Maya Angelou said,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Use your gestures to increase the good feeling your audience will have during and after your presentation.

Are you convinced by now your gestures are some “powerful arrows in your speaking quiver?” Let’s now talk about the “nuts and bolts” of how to increase your gesticulation during your presentations.

How to Increase Your Gesticulation

Depending on the culture and environment in which you were raised, you will be a master of gestures, a sometimes practitioner, or someone who rarely uses gestures, if at all.

Second of all, realize anyone can learn to use gestures in their presentations. It is a skill like cooking, riding a bike, and skydiving.

Thirdly, there is a process of integrating gestures into your presentations. If you can boil an egg, you can become a master of gesticulation.

Below is a five-step process to integrate gestures into your presentations:

  • Step 1 – Write out your presentation in the actual words you will say or in bullets

  • Step 2 – Examine the different parts of your speech you want to particularly “hit home” with your audience

  • Step 3 – Determine and write down the type of gesture that would be particularly appropriate for a particular part of your speech

  • Step 4 – Practice this gesture during your speech in front of a mirror

  • Step 5 – Continue to practice these gestures until they become natural for you

I am warning you right now. The first time you perform an unnatural gesture, you are going to feel silly and say to yourself something like, “Why am I doing this. It isn’t who I am.”

Your persistence to blow right through this feeling will pay big dividends to you.

You now know the purpose of gestures and how to increase your gesticulation during your presentations. All it takes is practice to make the gestures your own.

Practice Makes Permanent

Brian Tracy, the self-development expert, says, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make permanent.

Isn’t that what you want with your new gestures? You want to make them a permanent fixture in your presentation “quiver.” You want them to be second nature to you. The only want to do this is to practice, practice, practice.

Knowing where to place the gestures in your presentation is only half the battle. The other half is making them an automatic extension of who you are, whether conversing with one person or delivering a presentation to hundreds or thousands of people.

Practice your newfound gestures in front of a mirror and then evaluate their appropriateness to the part of your presentation you are delivering.

Next, practice your presentation with the new gestures in front of a live practice audience. Your feeling of delivering your presentation to a live audience will teach you much about your gestures.

You will learn whether the reaction to your gestures from your audience is what you expected.

You will start to think about where your gestures can be relocated in your presentation to maximize your effect on your audience.

Finally, you will learn whether the intensity of your gestures was too low, too high, or just right.

There is no faster way to integrate your gestures into your presentations than to practice them repeatedly, first in front of a mirror, then in front of a live practice audience, and, finally, in front of your intended audience. Yes, you are still practicing even though you are speaking in front of your intended audience. You learn every time you practice your gestures.

In this article, we have explored the purpose of gestures, how to increase your gesticulation with your audience, and why practicing your gestures makes them your own.

If you want to up your speaking game, better engage your audience, and start getting more speaking opportunities, increase your gesticulation.

If you persist in adding more and more relevant gestures when you deliver a presentation, you soon will find yourself in that elite group of outstanding speakers!

Call to Action

  • Internalize the purpose of gestures and how they can significantly raise your engagement with your audience

  • Follow the five-step process to incorporate gestures into your presentation delivery

  • Practice your gestures during your presentation delivery, first in front of a mirror, second to a live practice audience, and third to your intended audience.

“Just remember, the language of gesture is more effective than the spoken word. Body language is very powerful. Bring the balance within you and project that balance.”

– Harbhajan Singh Yogi

Frank DiBartolomeo is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and award-winning speaker, presentation and interview skills coach, and Professional Member of the National Speakers Association. He was awarded Toastmasters International’s highest individual award, Distinguished Toastmaster, in 2002 because of his outstanding work in public speaking and leadership.

Frank formed DiBartolomeo Consulting International (DCI), LLC (www.frankdibartolomeo.com) in 2007. The mission of DCI is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence their colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence. Frank can be reached at frank@frankdibartolomeo.com and (703) 509-4424.

Don’t miss Frank DiBartolomeo’s latest book!

“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”

Available now at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Frank DiBartolomeo, Jr.
Title: President
Group: DiBartolomeo Consulting International, LLC
Dateline: Centreville, VA United States
Cell Phone: (703) 509-4424
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