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It would be equally bad to hold the hands stiffly at the side, or in any forced position.
Don't form any characteristic action with your hands. You may have heard of the boy who could recite only when he twisted a certain button, but who failed miserably when his sister cut off the button.
Let the hands swing naturally, and move with the thought. Let them rise now and then into gesture.
In an office a man sometimes taps with a pencil, rattles papers, turns cards about, or taps with his finger. Every such motion detracts from the thought, for the movements divert the hearer'3 attention.
Watch people who talk with you and notice what they do with their hands. How do some people give the impression of repose?
The hands should rest easily and naturally, but should constantly play a part in emphasizing thought.
As far as possible when speaking, whether in an office or on a platform, keep your hands from touching any part of your face, or from doing anything except emphasize thought.
Imagine that you are speaking to a visitor in your office. Assume the proper attitude while sitting, paying particular attention to the position of your hands.
How to Use Gesture
KEY WORDS: USE GESTURE ONLY WHEN NECESSARY.
In some European countries gesture is a large part of talk. In fact, conversation could hardly be carried on without it.
You have heard the story of the two gesticulating foreigners, neither one of whom could swim, who kept afloat until rescued. "But you said you couldn't swim!" said one of their friends. "We couldn't," was the answer. "We just kept on talking."
In the United States there is a tendency to avoid gesture in speech.
Both methods are bad, for both are extreme.
The overuse of gesture detracts from its power to emphasize. It becomes mere motion and little else.
Not to use gesture at all is to lose an important means of speech.
Without giving the matter any especial thought speak aloud and tell what a spiral is. Did you use gesture? If so, why did you use it? What principle of using gesture does this illustrate?
In ordinary talk on the street, or in an office, use gesture now and then to make your thought clear and striking, but never use gesture when there is not a definite reason for it.
Clench the right fist, bring it sharply down to a point level with your eye, and read the following: "I defy any man to find one touch of dishonesty in my record!"
On the public platform gesture is not the necessity that our fathers thought it. It is possible to give a long address well without any gesture. It would be better to use gesture, if you can use it properly.
Extend both arms in a half lowered position, open the hands loosely, so that there is no muscular tension, hold the palms somewhat upward and towards your hearers, and repeat the following: "That is the whole story. There is no more. That is all there is to it."
Do not try to use the old-fashioned formal gestures. Use gestures for clearness and force and never for themselves only. Gestures are not ornaments. They are helps.
Extend the right arm somewhat to the right, and point with the index finger as you read the following:. "Over yonder the enemy lies, and there we are going!"
Strike your fist on a table for determination; point with your fingers, count with your hands, or move your hands in any imitative manner for clearness; point at your audience, turn now this way, now that, turn to the chairman, or make any other motion to awaken attention to your thought, but never merely to yourself.
In general, be completely and entirely yourself in your gestures.
Avoid ail that is formal; avoid gestures that attract attention to themselves alotie; use whatever movements unll actually make your thought clear and emphatic.
Say over the principal words of your last conversation, and use appropriate gesture.
How to Breathe in Order to Improve
KEY WORDS: CULTIVATE THE ART OF DEEP
Breathe well and you are almost certain to be a good reader or speaker.
Without drawing a deep breath read aloud as much as possible of this page. Now take three deep breaths and hold the last breath. Then read aloud as much as possible of the same page. What does the result show?
The lungs, of course, provide the power by which speech is produced. When the lungs are properly expanded the chest acts as a sounding board and produces resonance.
All good singers pay much attention to lung development and to breathing. No one, in fact, could become a good singer if he neglected these important matters.
One who would be a good speaker must imitate the lung training and the breathing exercises of the singers.
Breathe in such a way as to expand your chest as much as possible. Measure the expansion.
I remember a Y. M. C. A. worker who went before an audience of twelve hundred young men. The first thing he did was to bend over and touch the floor with his hands without bending his knees. Then he went through