You know, radio is a great thing. Here I am! Flying high above the earth, but my voice is coming across just as if Iwere sitting in front of you. Communicating by voice alone has its drawbacks,though.
For example, I can’t use handgestures to clarify what I mean. And, as it turns out, that makes a bigdifference. Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand wanted to know how much a relevant hand gesture helps to communicate an idea. They hadvolunteers watch video clips of a woman saying different simple phrases, such as“the square box,” or “peel the banana.”
In some, she simply said the phrase withoutmoving her hands. Peel the banana. In others, she made the kind of hand gesture most of us would make when saying that–a sort of banana-peeling mime that matches the content of the phrase. In a third group,she made gestures with her hands that were unrelated to what she was saying.
The results? People who got the matchingcontent hand gestures remembered those phrases more effectively than folks whogot just the words alone. And folks who got just the words alone did better than folks who got irrelevant hand gestures!
What does this show us? We already knewthat all the hand-waving we do when we speak isn’t just nervousenergy; it serves various functions. Apparently, one of them is to help thelistener remember what you’ve said.
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