When Hand Gestures Get In The Way

At this point, it’s likely you’ve heard that hand gestures can be an effective way to convey trustworthiness, to appear engaged and energized and even to help your audience understand and retain what you are verbally sharing with them. 

We’ve written a number of articles on effective hand gesture use on our blog herehere and here

But is it possible to have too many hand gestures?

Short answer: DEFINITELY. 

As with anything in communication, this is not really an all or nothing situation. And at Virtual Sapiens when it comes to hand gestures, we actually want to help you avoid both extremes of the hand gestures spectrum. I.e. no hand gestures use…and also, hand gestures overuse. 

Have you ever been in a meeting in person or on video and someone is over-reliant on hand gestures to get their point across? Maybe it shows up as a flurry of hand movements or a repeated circular hand motion that almost makes it look like they may be at a loss for words? 

In these cases, among others, hand gestures can actually compromise our presence and authority. They can make use appear nervous and not composed. 

Of course, everything in nonverbal communication depends on context, but we always want to be aware of what might actually be veering towards being ‘too much of a good thing’. 

A few rules of thumb (😉 ):

👋 You want to think about using your hand gestures running parallel with what you are saying
👋 Hand gestures are especially effective during parts of your speech when you want to really drive a point home or illustrate a concept/idea visually
👋 Keep your gestures varied, but not all over the place. Oftentimes we have a few go to hand gestures that we tend to rely on. Make sure these gestures align with what you are saying. 
👋 If you are talking about a big idea, use open palm and more expansive gestures
👋 If you are talking about something very small/nuanced and exacting, use a smaller hand gestures, with fingers pinched together for example, to convey the detailed nature 
👋 If you find yourself waving your hands around willy nilly…this is a sign that you want to place your hands in your lap or on the table, and ground yourself more fully in your body. You are likely overusing your hand gestures.

This can seem like a lot, but luckily, Virtual Sapiens is programed to detect too few hand gestures…and too many. 

See how you do with a free trial of our assessment product