5 hand gestures that will make you look like a real intellectual

This glossary of gestures is what one needs to reach the upper echelons of intellect.

We all do it, gesturing to make or emphasise our point of view. However some of us do it with such intent and zest, that others can’t help but take note.

Alice May Williams and Jasmine Johnson are the pair behind the highly satirical virtual manual ‘The Glossary of Gestures for Critical Discussion.’ Having witnessed certain actions frequently while earning their MFA at Goldsmiths College in London, they decided to catalogue the lot into one handy (pun intended) guide for the wannabe intellect. Here are five of the most prolific gestures to help you excel in whatever topic you wish to discuss, regardless of whether you’re placing bets on how long Kanye and Kim will remain in wedlock for, or whether the privatisation of extra-terrestrial land is something the next generation of land owners should consider. Boom.

The Critical Whirl:
When to use it: When you’ve read too much Marx and can’t get your words out.

How to do it: Circle hand clockwise in a small but rapid motion towards the audience.
Accelerate and repeat until idea is fully unpacked.

The Backhand Slap:
When to use it: When you’ve said it before but want to say it again. Serves a similar purpose in conversation as the  exclamation mark, or underline. Also useful as a reinforcing gesture when critical opponent seems unresponsive.

How to do it: Slap dominant hand into non-dominant hand with gusto.

The Shelf Sweep:
When to use it: When explaining hierarchies.

How to do it: A two handed maneuver whereby you begin with both hands at right hand shoulder, before sweeping across the top shelf of imaginary bookcase. When level with left shoulder, make sharp rotation of wrists and sweep across lower shelf.

The Dialectic:
When to use it: This is the gesture you’ll need to master in order to become a thought leader. Use it at your upcoming TED talk when expressing a shift from one thing to another. Highly infectious.

How to do it: Hand lifts like an upturned claw, as you grip an invisible dial between thumb and forefinger. Rotate wrist ninety degrees, snapping into end position. Smoothly rotate back to start. Repeat up to three times depending on conviction.

The Pick up of Small Ideas:
When to use it: When seated in front of an intimate audience, attempting to convince them of your almighty concepts.

How to do it: Reach down towards imaginary pile of sand, pinch a small amount, lift with closed fingers and return to original position. Repeat up to 3 times. Optional extra; present idea to others in palm of hand.


Say what? It’s time we all had a lesson in correct pronunciation

A beginner’s guide to picking a winning horse at the Melbourne Cup

Still confused about the ‘black tie’ dress code? We answer your questions