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Gesture is a uniquely powerful tool. Here’s how to make the most of it


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The answer lies beyond what the two men said. We tend to consider language as the only medium through which we communicate, but there is another channel hidden in our hands: gesture. Even if we are unaware of our gestures, they are visible to anyone who can see us talking. What’s more, they seem to have a special hold on the truth. Gestures often give people a window into our thoughts that words don’t – which might help explain why Kennedy went on to win the US presidency.

But gestures don’t just let other people read our minds. I have spent five decades studying how we communicate with our hands and, together with other researchers, I have discovered the surprising power of gestures to shape our thoughts.

What we have come to realise is that gestures are not mere movements. They are a special kind of thinking that is revealed through the hands. Most people so undervalue them that they often don’t realise they are gesturing. Yet the wide range of abilities that gesturing entails makes it a sort of superpower. Understand gesture and you can maximise its benefits to boost learning and memory, communicate more effectively and build deeper social …

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