2004
Volume 41, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1573-9775
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1236

Abstract

Abstract

To convey information during an oral presentation speakers not only use words, they also gesticulate. Their gestures can be divided into iconic, metaphoric, deictic and beat gestures (McNeill, 1992). Beats (repetitive, short movements) are frowned upon by some presentation skills advisers. Earlier research that focused on short speeches, mostly about concrete topological content, found that gestures help the listener to understand and remember the content. Presentation skills courses, however, focus on longer, more abstract informative speeches. To explore how gestures influence both retention and assessment of the speaker in such longer speeches, an experiment was conducted. Participants ( = 229) were asked to watch a fifteen minute informative presentation accompanied by PowerPoint slides, either (i) without gestures, (ii) with only beat gestures, or (iii) with a mix of iconic, metaphoric, deictic, and beat gestures. Participants were tested on retention and on their assessment of speaker qualities. An ANOVA showed a significant effect for retention. When a speaker accompanied his speech with only beat gestures, this resulted in higher scores than when this speaker remained in a static position. Also, when the speaker used only beat gestures, he was seen as more ‘natural’ than when he remained in a static position. These results do not imply causality. They may, however, temper advisers’ warnings against using beat gestures in presentations.

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2019-04-01
2021-10-21
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): beats; education; gestures; oral presentation; retention
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