Science Says Speaking with Your Hands Could Make a Conversation More Memorable

Max Planck Institute scientists explain that chopping motions emphasize words more.

Whether you are chatting with friends or an acquaintance, an engaging conversation can help someone learn something new and even create a lasting impression. With that being said, there are some other things you can do to make sure you are getting your point—whatever it may be—across to someone in memorable way. According to Max Planck Institute scientists, hand gestures when speaking, such as waving or simply moving them through the air, make what you have to say more engaging to others, the Daily Mail reports.

Businesswoman gesturing by window at workplace
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

The study featured in the Royal Society Journal noted that these choppy hand movements, also known as beat gestures, impact how people hear your words. More specifically, hand gestures are said to help make vowels seem longer. For their research, the authors of the study played videos of a man talking, but his face was blurred and you could only clearly see his right arm moving to add stress on syllables. "Beat gestures... influence the perception of individual speech sounds," they explained.

The scientists added that these motions can emphasize important words, which is why you can oftentimes see this in action "prominently in politicians' public speeches." Plus, the combination of hearing and viewing something can allow people "to make a well-informed best guess of what specific message a speaker is intending to communicate," they noted.

In all, they found that speech can be recognized in a stronger way if you can also view someone's hand motions—even if the circumstance is virtual. The use of animated gestures with computer sounds can also allow people to have a greater understanding and memory of the conversation.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles