A gesture is a form of non verbal communication made with part
of the body, used instead of or in combination with verbal
communication. The language of gesture allows individuals to
express a variety of feelings and thoughts, from contempt and
hostility to approval and affection.
In speech, gestures are purposive movements of some parts of the
body. They are made principally by movements of head,
shoulders, arms, and occasionally, feet.
GESTURES ARE CLASSIFIED IN VARIOUS WAY;
• Descriptive gestures. They are gestures which aid words in describing anything.
• Suggestive gestures. Are representative or figurative rather than literal. These gestures
are used suggestively to show your mood.
• Locative gestures it points to place, position, or direction.
• Emphatic gestures are used when words or ideas need to be stressed or reinforced.
• Dramatic or imitative gestures convey impersonation of another person’s action or
“acting out” part of a narrative.
Communication involves more than just words. Bodily motions, eye
contact and even non verbal sounds are also used when we speak. The
way we stand, or sit or walk, the very positioning of our body can speak
loudly for or against us whenever we communicate. Our facial expression,
for instance, actually backs up whatever we are saying.
Body language, as long as it is in full harmony with our ideas, does
not merely help rather it makes intentions clearer in our speeches. It also
adds richness and personal intensity to the very expression of those
thoughts and feelings we are trying to communicate.
THE FACIAL EXPRESSION
• Audience look at the speaker’s face. Face reflects what is in the heart of the person and
it is in the face that the audience could read what emotion the speaker conveys. The face
should correspond to the message. If the speaker is talking about happy moments, smiles
should be shown. If he speaks sorrowful events, it must be shown in his face as sad;
otherwise, his message could not touch the listeners.
• Facial expression should reflect the speaker’s thinking and emotional attitudes. The facial
muscles should be flexible permitting expressions of the speaker in varying moods. Like
everything else a speaker does, his facial expression can be a great aid in reinforcing and
clarifying meaning, conveying moods, and giving emphasis.
Different Types of Facial Expressions
It is an expression that always cheers everyone
around, and is globally recognized. It depicts
various kinds of positive
temperaments/moods, like enjoyment,
pleasure, satisfaction, friendliness, etc.
Usually, the surprised expression
is exaggerated. Widened eyes,
gaping mouth, raised eyebrows,
lowered chin, and head held
It is an expression which is totally
opposite to happiness, and depicts
negative moods, like when you lose
something very precious, or if you
This is one expression in which all
parts of the face contribute equally
towards the overall look, to show a
sign of disorientation or confusion.
This expression can depict various messages
about an enemy, aggression, attack, etc. The
feeling of anger needs to be clearly visible on
Posture may be described as how the speaker stands and moves around. Posture could be
an indicator of speaker’s confidence or lack of it. A good posture could command respect from
the audience but an awkward one would make the listeners uneasy. The proper posture for
the speaker is one that gives him the feeling of relation and makes him appear controlled, self-
possessed, at ease, with reserved energy at his fingertips, and in command both of himself and
the speaking situation. Such a posture provides a base for effective movement and gestures.
The body should be erect without exaggerated stiffness. The speaker should not be like a
soldier-at-attention. Relaxness gives a feeling of comfort, but one must not be too relaxed as
to appear that he would collapse. The arms should hang naturally at the sides, except when
they are used for gesticulation. The speaker may grasp the lectern with his hands. The hands
positions, however should be varied periodically, and no one position may be maintained for an
• Bodily movement refers to total body movement as the speakers shifts
from one position to another. It helps to catch the attention of the
audience in conveying concrete meaning to the message.
• A speaker who stays in just one place would appear stiff. It would
create uneasiness to the audience and himself . But the one who moves
about from time to time would make the atmosphere relax. However
movements must be done according to the idea of his message and not
In ordinary conversation, we could not help but to sway our hands
for demonstration of our idea. This is more true in public speaking. Hand
gestures are a complement for the demonstration of speaker’s idea.
Some conventional gestures have acquired almost universal meaning
like the victory signs and thumbs up. Other like pointing, clinching fist,
open palm, and others have several meanings which depend on the
context of the speaker.
Example of hand
Raise your index and middle fingers, and
separate them so as to form the alphabet
"V". Show it to people with your palm
facing outwards, and you are showing them
the sign of victory. This gesture was used
widely at the time of WWII, in order to
symbolize "V for Victory".
Raise your hand, and touch the tip of
your index finger to the tip of your
thumb to form a circular shape. Hold
the remaining three fingers straight.
This gesture signals the word okay,
which means that everything is fine.
Okay or A-oK
Hold your hand upright, with the
back of your palm facing inwards.
This hand gesture indicates that you
want someone to stop or stay
wherever he/she is.
Stop or Stay
This is one of the most popular hand
gestures, used almost all over the world.
When we cross the middle finger of either of
our hands over the index finger of the same
hand, this sign is formed. We keep our
fingers crossed when we hope something
good to happen, or even to nullify a promise.
Pointing gesture may mean direction, locating a place or a
thing, or directing the audience attention to something. You
may point in front of you, behind you, to your left or right as
you deem appropriate. Let your audience “see” the idea or
thing you are talking about.
•Open palms may mean giving or receiving. This is the
gestures that indicates friendly relations, exchange, receiving,
or presenting. but an open palm pointed to the audience,
may mean stop, dislike, back off, rejecting.
•Clasped hands may mean peace, prayer or
request, but a single hand in oblique position
may mean division or separation.
Fist hand has the most numerous and various
meaning. It may be an act of triumph, determination,
threatening, militant, strength, or emphasis. It will
only be clear on the context of speech.