Introduction To The Hands Can Speak English Language Essay

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It is said that non-verbal communication makes up about two-thirds of all communication between two people or between one speaker and a group of listeners. [1] In our daily life, the hand gestures constitute a considerable portion of non-verbal communication. It can be interesting to study about how the hand gestures are originated and perceived, and how they can be composed in the most effective manner. It will be reasonable to comment that the group no.1 of section B, i.e., Ms. Eshnna V. P. Ekka, Mr. Pratik Agarwal and Mr. Nishanth S. have made a decent effort in this regard, with their presentation on the topic Hands Can Speak. This report critically evaluates the group's overall performance during the presentation, the research they have conducted and the content of the presentation. The group has organized a survey amongst an available sample and conjoined the results in forming their conclusions and understanding on the research topic. We also reckon that they have made a good attempt by incorporating these results in the presentation effectively and articulating them to the listeners.

Introduction

Gestures were one of the earliest forms of communication to interact with the environment. They facilitate communication through body movement, facial expression, and finger pointing. [2] Not only are hand gestures entertaining, but they also help relay messages. Without gestures, speakers make more pauses and have more trouble saying words.[3] Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters International, wrote, "The speaker who stands and talks at ease is the one who can be heard without weariness. If his posture and gestures are so graceful and unobtrusive that no one notices them, he may be counted truly successful." [4] It is obvious that mastering the art of effectively utilizing gestures in day to day interactions will help any individual to be successful in his profession. For this, one has to study and understand the meaning each gesture conveys in different circumstances.

In this report, however, we stick to the analysis and interpretation of hand gestures under various scenarios, what the group has chosen for their research. The study of hand gestures is not something evolved in the recent past. According to Kate Edward, hand has acquired a special set of vocabulary due to its 'physical versatility and natural role as an additional outlet of human expression'. So the communication using hands must have been started with the pre-evolution of humanity. She further states that the study of human gestures also has a long history starting from ancient Rome where hand gestures were studied and catalogued. At that time, the thumbs up and thumbs down gestures were widely used by the crowds in the Roman coliseum. [5]

Taking its cues from the past, the study of hand gestures and body language in general has progressed to great extents in the last few decades. The term 'body language' became a buzz word after the Australian Allan Pease's 1981 monograph and its reprints. After extensive research and thorough observations, Pease managed to decipher the underlying meaning of many subconscious gestures. He has also considered the factors like gender, geographic location, culture, interests of the person(s), social class etc. while analyzing them. [6] Pease is a popular authority in the field of body language studies as he is called 'Mr. Body Language'. [7] The group has used many of his findings in their presentation. For example, the hand shake styles (taking the control, giving the control, shake like a man, the glove, the elbow grip etc.) were portrayed by the group as they were depicted by Pease. The usage of gestures like V sign, thumbs up, the ring etc. in various cultures also was an excerpt from Pease's work. Thus we can see that Pease has contributed much in spreading the gospel of hand gestures and their meaning in the modern era.

Analysis

The speaker started with brief explanation of the topic - Hand Gestures- which is something that we use/ encounter several times during the normal course of the day. After explaining the importance of hand gestures, the speaker showed a video of an eminent personality using hand gestures to explain concepts of virtual space. He also explained the application of hand gestures to describe critical concepts like growth, magnitude and timelines. This approach of showing video and then explaining was very effective and helped the audience grasp a new concept quickly. The other application that the speaker touched upon was the relationship between people involved in a handshake. This topic is something which the audience was more familiar with, and hence the speaker could have started explaining the application of hand gestures with handshake. Showing various types of handshakes as a static image as well as a practical version emphasized the topic further. Other hand gestures like standing cross handed, clapping, and hands on hips wasn't explained and only little information on aspects of communication related to hand near mouth was explained.

An insight on Dr. Elena's research about connection between hand movement and memory access was a new topic that was brought to the audience and was timed appropriately during the middle of the talk. Also to show the diversity of application of hand gestures, the example of teachers using hand gestures to explain concepts of physics and mathematics was stated. The aspect of cultural blunders done by leaders using hand gestures at the wrong place/ time was shown. It was a good move as it had the maximum impact and also generated a lot of interest in the topic. Overall the flow of logic was good, however more known facts could have been put in the beginning (like handshakes) to generate more interest.

Most of the logical reasoning had credible sources. One of the claims of the presenter of "Thumbs Up" sign in Indian context was that we are very influenced by the British. Hence it meant a sign of 'Job well done'. However, a lot of Indians use this locally as a teasing gesture. [8]

The Q&A session began with the hand gesture of the speakers who were standing with their hands behind their back. One of the speakers answered this question by saying that people stand with this hand gesture according to their comfort level and they were comfortable with this gesture. A couple of audience participated in this discussion. To add, we should stand straight with our arms bent at the waist and hands relaxed, at the "ready" position. Further, we should not clasp our hands together while communicating to audience. Hand gestures should be appropriate, consistent and natural with the opinion/ideas of the person in his/ her message. In general, the group has managed to engage the audience in a good discussion. But it was evident that they were not that successful in supporting their arguments and reinforcing the message.

Critical Evaluation

The group focused on the hand gestures used across different cultures except in Indian context. On being, asked about the hand gestures used specifically in Indian corporate scenario, one of the speakers answered that Indian history is mostly influenced by British and United states. So, hand gestures used in India are mostly carried forward by different cultures.

In Indian context, mudras are a prominent communication channel of expression. Mudras as non-verbal gestures are part and parcel of the Indian classical dance. Mudras constitute hand gestures and finger postures. Mudras are used every day, in all situations. To add, the most important hand gesture on which we are proud of and known in the world is "Namaste". Namaste is commonly used to greet others or salutation. It is also used by South Asian and East Asian countries. In the western countries, it is meant to be used as a handshake. It is originated from Sanskrit word 'Namah' and it is the first thing taught to children in Indian families to respect elders. It removes bar from the generation, age, importance, respect while greeting an older person or someone important. It demonstrates the additional respect to the person concerned. However, it also stands for the 'Goodbye". In India, Goodbye is never meant in final terms. Most often, it is simply done with folded hands, a Namaste. images

Audience participation started with body gesture while receiving winning trophy. People accept trophy close to their body or with some distance from their body. As this question was not related to the hand gesture, it was not answered. Then a question came up related to putting limit on using hand movements as extensive use of hand gestures can lead to distraction in communication. The speakers were asked to describe any survey done in this regard enunciating any rule or boundary on using hand movements. Prateek answered that people should use more and more hand gestures to address large audience in order to ensure that the audience in the back can see or understand the true context, which is certainly true. In addition, hand gestures should not be repetitive and partial to make it the most expressive form of communication. Hand gestures of the same movement over and over can cause distraction rather than a help in effective communication. Special attention should be paid towards elbows. If they hang stiffly at our sides, gestures will look shortened and artificial. To make communication effective, we should make sure there's plenty of room between elbows and body. For example, to make hand gestures effective, it should always be made above elbow and away from the body. In order to elicit conviction and enthusiasm, hand gesture should be energetic and well-expressed.

Conclusion

The style of presentation was good. They had a good mix of static image, videos, practical examples and data/research. The beginning part was very engaging especially with the videos and cultural blunders. However, as we moved to the analysis part we saw little less enthusiasm from the speaker and low hand gestures/non verbal communication led to the presentation being non-engaging. The comfort level of the first speaker was very good and his tone and confidence level was high. His explanation of the Virtual Space was very impactful. Eventually, when it came to most interactive part of the presentation, it seemed that group members could not grab the opportunity to support their argument and reinforce their message. While answering to questions, all group members were not active. Only one of the speakers was responding to all questions. Mutual learning was absent from the interactive session as participation from the audience was less except the couple of questions from class members and instructor. In such situation, they could have taken specific point from presentation which could stimulate discussion or opinion from audience.

However, we are of the opinion that the following topics could have been relevant:

How hand gestures varied by gender, height, and race? For example, as per the researches, females irrespective of race tend to use more hand movements to express themselves especially in strenuous situations. [9]

How it is perceived in different professions? For example, aggressive lawyers with aggressive hand movements tend to be more successful at gaining innocence for their clients than passive lawyers. [10]

Apart from these, the group did not reckon Allan Pease's work in references, even though they have used it many a times in their presentation. But altogether we can conclude that they have made an honest attempt with the presentation.

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