Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I picked up talking with my hands from my father, who has a very animated style of speaking and storytelling. I remember consciously making the decision to use gestures to "annotate" my speech when I was in my early teens, and doing so has paid off (as far as I can tell).

I find that I'm able to convince people of things and explain abstract concepts with much more ease than other people. This holds true even if I don't fully understand the idea I'm explaining. Something about being able to "mold" the space in front of me lends another dimension to weave the fabric of language around.

As a personal anecdote: I won the Marconi-Samueli Award for an app I built when I was 14 called MathSuite. It could parse algebraic equations and yield a result, and it did so offline (think Wolfram Alpha). I'd built the thing from scratch, and on the day of presentation, my computer had crashed and I couldn't ship a version of that app that would run.

Somehow, I convinced the judges of the veracity of the screenshots and claims on my presentation poster, and explained to them the potentially huge ramifications of my app, without being able to demonstrate it working. One judge commented that I had a "very expressive and mature style of explanation" — really, I think my hand gestures were a huge part of it.




> really, I think my hand gestures were a huge part of it.

I think you're right.

Slightly related, I can't find the research, but I read research that teachers apparently explain concepts more understandable when they use accompanying hand gestures.

Oh and also, when explaining statistics, don't use decimal numbers like 0.001%, just multiply it by a big number like 10000 and you can use whole numbers again. So of the one million people in our country, 100 experience XYZ. There also have been multiple papers on that one (can't find them [1]).

Those are two my pedagogical tips of the day :P

[1] Okay, I'm too lazy, it'd take me 15 to 30 min. to find both of them, since they come from my psychology time between 2012 and 2015.


As far as your multiplication trick, I could argue that it depends on what argument you're trying to present. If for example, you wanted to minimize the perceived death rate from a deadly virus, you might say that less than 0.2% percent of the population died as a result. You could also with equal validity say that more than 1 in 1,000 have died. I think it's clear how those two presentations of the same statistic could leave a very different impression if you don't put a lot of thought into the numbers.


Actually recently read an article about it last week.

https://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/03/29/13098/want-t...

Maybe it was this one?


Of a full hour it'd take me a quarter to a half to find both


Anecdote.

I also learned to do this from my father, who was a trial lawyer. When I joined the US Army, I regularly got 'smoked' in basic training for talking with my hands. I stoped doing it for several years. A few years after leaving the Army it came back subconsciously.

I also attribute much of my persuasiveness to my ability to convey a story in an animated fashion.


> I regularly got 'smoked' in basic training for talking with my hands.

What does this mean, and why is it bad?


Can only guess that gesticulating is a bad habit because the motion catches the eye of an observing enemy, may give away elements of the conversation (e.g. directions, shape of movements), and may designate you as a higher value target (the man with the plan).

Also, you can’t stand at attention and gesticulate at the same time.


Probably that OP was creatively punished for it by superiors or hazed by fellow soldiers. Usually it's only for the fact that you show some noticable non-"standard" behaviour and get bullied for it. Some dense people might deem animated talking "gay".

In my case it was the fact that I was smiling a lot, for which I was hazed constantly.


Damn son, I checked out your websites etc. Amazing portfolio. How does one become a wonderchild like you? I mean I'm most likely older than you but perhaps my future children have a small chance ^^


I’m truly flattered by the moniker of wonderchild :D, though I’m afraid to say I don’t really have any idea how I got here myself. My life has played itself out in the strangest and most wonderful ways, though not without some... not so great things along the way. In some sense I feel my life is analogous to that Daoist Chinese parable “塞翁失馬,焉知非福” [0]. Good creates bad, bad creates good, and so on.

I failed classes because I was busy building an app people said was worthless, and had to transfer schools because of it. That app then won me 2nd place in the national science fair and an asteroid named after me and some $15,000 in prizes. Then, after I won that science fair and experienced great success with it, I came home and fell into a terrible bought of major depression and anxiety. Being depressed and holed up in my room I did nothing but study cryptography and blockchains and buy cryptocurrencies. I flunked more classes, but I tested out of high school a few days after I turned 16. Then I went to work at a battery cooling startup making parts for the Mars Rover, which I promptly got fired from. But by then I had Bitcoin money and I went traveling with it. I bounced for a year around Europe, where I first had the idea for Assembl (which was just acquired). Somehow I ended up at the door of a Swiss VC and pitched them on the idea, and so the story continues.

I could go on. These oscillations have been pretty constant throughout my life. As I’ve begun to understand the pattern, I’ve found better ways of surfing these waves.

[0]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_old_man_lost_his_horse


I only have one regret in life; not buying Bitcoin early :P I wish you the best of luck my friend. Hope to see your name many times. Continue going out in the world and be a champion!


Talk with your hands


I also tend to use my hands to explain a lot, especially when the subject is not something the listener is expert in.

Using gestures to reinforce the idea of how these separate objects are related... this node is the peer of that one, this server runs these two services, etc.

It helps that I usually have a good idea of which concepts the listener has some knowledge of, and which need further explanation or simplification.




Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: