responsiveness. The exercises suggested at the close of this chapter will be found adequate for the average student. In exceptional cases the teacher may find it desirable to supplement these with further exercises.

Logical cultivation of gesture. The query arises as to whether the student, after having practiced exercises to free the avenues of muscular expression, will express himself with the right kind of gestures without special training in so-called modes, or forms, of gesture. This can be determined by the use of a simple experiment such as I have tried many times in my own classes. Let the teacher give the class a sentence containing an important idea, which all are to express. Let it be suggested that, if they feel they can express the idea more clearly or more emphatically with the aid of gesture, they employ whatever gesture seems to them most appropriate. The result will prove most interesting.

In trying this experiment I have always taken pains to suggest that no student need attempt a gesture unless he have the impulse to use one, and that if he does have such an impulse, it is to express itself in whatever form of gesture seems most naturally suited to the expression of that particular idea. It has been interesting to find that in most instances every student has the impulse to make a gesture of some kind, and that almost invariably the majority of the class use the same form of gesture.

One needs no better testimony that the language of gesture is a universal language; that it is the sign language of the race; that it is one of the most natural and expressive means of communication that we have. We all employ gestures much more commonly than we are aware.

We instinctively express ideas of welcome with wide-flung arms and open palms, while that which arouses a feeling of pugnacity just as naturally finds expression through the medium of the clenched fist.

The logical method of cultivating gesture, therefore, is by taking advantage of this naturally expressive character of our gesture language and developing it in the most natural way. In doing this we shall do well to think of gesture as in no sense a difficult accomplishment, but as a very easy mode of expressing ideas by means of our arms and hands. If we have taken sufficient pains in freeing these members of muscular tension, so that they will respond readily to the impulses that prompt, there will be little danger of our action being mechanical.

We may then very safely observe what our hands seem to express as we use them in one way or another. It will be interesting to note in what way they most naturally call attention to some definite point under discussion; what their action is if they express very great determination; how they look if they show mere passiveness or indifference. The student will get much valuable training in attempting to express with his hands in this way a great many ideas of widely different character. Indeed, it will be something of a pleasant surprise to him to find that gesture, acquired in the way that we have suggested, is in no sense a difficult task, but is merely the doing, in a little more formal way than he has been accustomed to, of an act that has been to him a natural mode of expression from childhood. Perhaps, however, he needs now to use gestures more suggestively or emphatically than he has used them before, and this necessitates their cultivation.

Special aids for cultivating gesture. After the speaker has practiced muscular responses by giving himself freely to mental and emotional impulses of many different kinds, so that he feels that he does not make gestures by conscious and laborious effort, he may very properly employ special aids in gesture training. One of the most common of these is the use of a mirror. Young speakers are usually sensitive to the possible charge of being a looking-glass orator." There is little real cause for this feeling, however, when we consider that many of the great orators have used this very means for cultivating gesture. It affords the special advantage of enabling us to see ourselves as others see us a thing greatly to be desired by every public speaker.


Another valuable aid is that of criticism from some other person. I have always favored the plan of students practicing together a great deal in their gesture work. A student who may know but little about the technic of gesture has no trouble in detecting rigid muscles and awkward movements, and can give a classmate valuable assistance in the practice of gesture.

A third, and perhaps the best, means of learning how to employ gesture well is by observing how it is used by various public speakers. In doing this, it is always well to study the gesture employed by speakers of all kinds the good, the bad, and the indifferent. It is something of an inspiration, to one who is just beginning the study of gesture, to watch the action of a skilled speaker whose gestures are so perfect that one could think of no way in which they might be improved. Yet in all probability quite as much real benefit would be gained from observing

a speaker whose action was very imperfect. A speaker of the first type furnishes the ideal; while one of the second type shows us the many things that we ought not to do. Both are important, as the cultivation of gesture consists of the eliminating as well as of the building-up process.

Cultivate expressiveness of gesture. In practicing gesture before a mirror or with the aid of a classmate's criticism, special attention should be given to the expressiveness of gestures. We know that there are many public speakers whose gestures express absolutely nothing. They are mere motions, nothing more. Such speakers have been compared to the pump, that

Up and down its arm doth sway

And spouts and spouts and spouts away.

Gestures that express nothing had far better not be used at all; they invariably detract from the effectiveness of any speech. There should be an attempt to make gestures as significant as possible by eliminating in the use of the hands and arms those elements that hinder communication and by cultivating those things that render them most expressive.

Therefore, as the speaker observes his own bodily movements, he will do well to note carefully what his hands seem to say. Do they really express ideas or do they make mere motions that are uncommunicative and wooden? Does each gesture seem to be an isolated thing, quite apart from all other action of the body, or do the gestures seem more expressive when the body acts in harmony with the movements of the arms and hands? Does the

hand appear more expressive when the thumb and fingers lie flat and are drawn close together or when they are somewhat separated and seem alive and active? Do the gestures look better when the arms swing free from the shoulders or when the elbows cling close to the sides? Is the gesture better when made from the elbow with the forearm and hand or when the entire arm from shoulder to finger-tips has a part in the action? Do the movements seem more graceful when the hands and arms move in the form of curves or when every joint acts as a hinge and the gestures are all made in angular, jackknife fashion? Is the gesture better when there is no action of the wrist, and the hand and forearm act as one, or when there is a whip of the hand from the wrist? Does the action look better when we fold the fingers back into the palm each time after a gesture is finished or when we relax the hand? Does it look better to draw the hand back toward the body before letting it fall to the side or to relax it at the point where the gesture is finished?

Questions such as these, and a great many others, the speaker will ask himself as he observes his own action and works to perfect himself in the art of gesture. One thing, however, he must keep constantly in mind: the aim of this training is not to enable him merely to make graceful gestures; it is to bring his mode of communication through gesture to the highest degree of expressiveness.

The principle of reserve power in gesture. The question is often asked by students, "Is it more effective to use a good many gestures in a speech or a few?"

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