Effective speakers understand the power of gestures. Good gestures can add emphasis to an important point. They can be used to help explain a complicated concept. They can turn a speech into drama.
As I have said previously, we should not overdue gestures. Instead, we should incorporate them in our presentations the way a world class chef would add a fine spice to a meal: to enhance the flavour; not to overpower it.
For a great example of how gestures can be used to increase the effectiveness of a presentation, watch this fascinating TED Talk by Bonnie Bassler, a molecular biologist at Princeton University. In the video, she is speaking about a very exciting discovery in the field of bacteriology.
Bassler is incredibly expressive with her hands, even while holding a remote the entire time. In fact, I think that there were times during her presentation when she could have cut back on the gestures, thereby adding more punch to those times when she did use them.
Nevertheless, her gestures help the audience visualize the different concepts about which she is speaking. I particularly like the gestures that she uses when describing the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid and its symbiotic relationship with a bioluminescent bacteria known as Vibrio fischeri (5:00 – 7:00).
You can tell that Bassler is passionate about her work. The passion comes through in her voice, in her facial expressions and, yes, in her gestures.