Saturday, February 14, 2009

Taking The Stage

Writen by Ellen Dunnigan

When you are introduced, "take the stage" by walking to the podium or center stage purposefully, quickly, and with your head held high. Pause a few seconds, smile brightly, and then move to the left or right of center stage, out from behind the podium just one or two steps.

These deliberate movements tell the audience, "I'm glad to be here. I'm prepared, credible, and confident. You are going to enjoy my presentation!"

Emphasize Key Points

When you are about to make an important point, step forward with one, slightly-longer-than-normal, step. Walking, but not pacing, can also help emphasize a lengthy and important idea. It must be "intentional" and important to the message. Simply take a few steps and at slight angles.

Throughout your remarks, your audience takes cues from your movements. As you make transitions between segments, move fairly slowly sideways away from your visual aids or props and toward your initial starting location. Returning to a position standing next to the podium (or at your initial starting point) tells the audience you are starting a new concept or idea. When you finish an important point or conclude a section of your speech, step backwards one or two steps.

Engage Your Audience

Watch what happens to your audience when you move in this manner. They will take visual clues from you and without thinking, respond positively to your movement.

As you step forward they are likely to sit upright in more of an "interested learner" posture. As you step back, or return to your starting point, the subliminal clue will tell your audience to relax from the "interested learner" posture, resting before your next point.

Avoid Unnecessary Movement

There are specific reasons to move and specific reasons not to move:

• Don't pace back and forth between the podium and your props or visual aids. This indicates an inability to control your environment. People will focus on your movement instead of your message.

• Stay in one location until you have a reason to move

• Don't pace left and right the width of your audience. This is highly distracting and tells the audience you are trying to burn off nervous energy.

• Don't stand in front of your visual aids or props. If you are using more than one aid, place the other(s) either at stage left or stage right. Make it easy for your audience to use your visual aids in support of your message.

• Don't face your visual aids. Direct your message to your important guests. Turning around impedes the flow of sound and often causes audience members to miss your point.

Keeping your movements purposeful keeps your audience's attention. An audience that remembers you and your message... What could be better than that?

Accent On Business founder and CEO Ellen Dunnigan is a nationally-recognized and proven coach with specialized training in voice, speech, and English improvement. She holds a master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology and has been certified as clinically competent by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

In addition, she has spent several years in corporate settings as an operations leader and strategist. Ms. Dunnigan has devoted 17 years to helping people improve their personal and professional voice and speaking skills. For more information go to:

1 comment:

Eric said...

Great post. Some very excellent tips.Thanks!

In my recently published pre-teen novel, Ian, one of Santa’s helpers, has to undergo some management training. Of course it includes public speaking, which he dreads at first. But he likes the way the class is structured and soon also realizes that the other students share the same types of anxieties. He also learns how to “work the room" by helping his friend Elise with her administrative functions prior to the speech making. It makes him feel like kind of a host and really helps him to cope with his speaking anxiety.

All the best!
Eric Dana Hansen
Author of "IAN, CEO, North Pole"