Hand Gestures
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In this Explearning Communications lesson, I teach you how to use important hand gestures that you can incorporate in your interpersonal communication and public speaking. As an effective communicator, your body language is tightly linked to what you verbalize. Improve your nonverbal communication!

Hand gestures are super important for communication. Today I’m going to teach you how to use hand gestures in public speaking and in conversation. 

I want to help you up your nonverbal game so we’re going to discuss some important hand gestures you need to be using.

When used correctly gestures:

(1) bring their focus to you 

(2) mirror the emphasis and structure of your speaking patterns

You’ll notice that the successful ted talkers will use gestures in their speech. And now you know why that is! Because it improves the message of their talk.

Make sure the hand gesture matches the words! Don’t gesticulate in a perfunctory manner. 

Two things to avoid:

  • randomly using a gesture that does not support the words that go with it. 
  • An obvious example is thumbs down when you’re trying to say “Great job”
  • frantic hands with too much movements. 
  • Unless you’re doing a musical steer clear of Jazz hands.

Let’s get into the right way of using hand gestures. 

Outwardly sweeping gesture:

When you make a sweeping gesture outwardly, you are welcoming someone to an event or talk. This usually comes at the beginning of a speech or in the opening remarks.

Both hands on heart:

This shows that something is important to you. It demonstrates that you care about that which you are talking about. 

It really means a lot to me Fred that you can end your meeting early to be at the soccer game. 

One hand on heart:

This gestures demonstrates that you’re touched. It can also be a way of thanking someone for something they said or did. Maybe a kindness they showed you 😊

I’m speechless, what a kind thing to say. This is a lovely gesture, thank you.

Right hand, left hand:

This shows that you are speaking of two separate things. You are illustrating the “this and that “ or showing two options. 

  • We have two shipments that arrived from Japan matcha and mochi.
  • We need to be mindful about proper nutrition and getting enough sleep. 

Bringing hands together:

This shows agreement or connection. You can be agreeing with the speaker or listener. It could also signal a collective “we agree” on this matter. It is as though you’re coming together on a point.

I think we both agree that daily exercise is imperative.

Refrain from pointing!

Use a thumb point, open hand or reaching outwardly gesture.

For example, when calling on an audience member you might gesture and say simultaneously: “Yes over there, what’s your question?”

And inclusive sweeping inwards gesture:

When you do sweeping inwards you are highlighting inclusivity and “everyone is here together.” This highlights the following:

  • We are all the same. 
  • We are in this together.
  • We are a team.

Zig zag gesture:

Moving your hands in a zig zag manner shows that you are on the same page as each other. It’s as though to say:

  • We’re on the same page here.
  • I get you.
  • We’re on the same wavelength.

Gesturing with your hands big and small: 

This demonstrates the physical space to illustrate a point. It can be used to reinforce the size – big or small – of that of which you speak. It’s a great gesture to use in storytelling or when you are embellishing a detail. For example: 

I caught a fish this big.

Oh, the spider was only this big. Don’t worry about it.

The growth curve:

This is a left to right incline that you are gesturing to show growth. When speaking about progress this is a great nonverbal to have on tap. For example, I’ll pair this gesture when saying:

Our subscriber count is increasing, thank you Explearners!

We’ve made a ton of progress over the course of the year! Well done, team 😊


This is self-explanatory. Showing a count when explaining something helps reinforce the points and numerical values. 


Avoid the culturally bound gestures. If you’re in a cross-cultural context, do the research ahead of time so you don’t find yourself offending anyone.

Try incorporating these hand gestures Explearners and dd them to your communication toolkit.

I’ll see you in the next lesson. 😊

Happy Explearning 🐝

About the Author and the Explearning Academy:

Mary Daphne is an expert in communication, executive interpersonal skills, and personal development. She is the founder of the Explearning Academy, a platform dedicated to helping individuals enhance their social fluency, boost their careers, and elevate their social game. Through immersive group coaching programs like the Executive Communication Lab and self-guided journeys, participants gain the social superpowers and career catapults they've been searching for. If you're ready to take your negotiation skills to the next level and connect with like-minded individuals, visit academy.explearning.co and explore the various plans available. Join the Explearning Academy community and unlock your full potential.

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