During a recent practice session, a speaker said to me, “I know you’re going to yell at me, but I just have to move anyway!” That statement is funny for two reasons. First, I never yell. And second, it’s a scientific fact that movement stimulates the brain and helps memory. It’s why we recommend lots of walks while constructing and reviewing talk-tracks. But that’s the work of preparation, not delivery. Exceptional speakers know the difference.
At the extreme, an audience can get dizzy watching a presenter move randomly across a stage. You’ve witnessed it and probably done it yourself. It’s what we call “roaming” in the biz and it’s a bad habit speakers need to overcome to become memorable. And that’s our New Year’s motto: you have to overcome to become.
Here are three things you can do to wow your audience:
Use the Power Positions
Regardless of your stage and set up, predetermine the three spots on the floor where you will move to and stand during your presentation. The first is center stage, the midpoint spot where you can see everyone and where you start and end your presentation. The second and third are equidistant points between you and the audience, one to your right and the other to your left.
“X” Marks the Spot
Use tape to physically mark these points. If that’s too apparent to the audience, locate your three power spots by looking at the floor and the walls. A recent convention amphitheater had three electrical outlets in the floor. Perfect! If not on the floor, can you visually align with the physical objects around you? The entrance doors? Or a clock? Or an exit sign? Find the visual cues that help you locate your go-to positions.
Once You Get There – Stand Still!
Novice speakers starting moving the minute they start talking. Or, once they establish their three points, they move between them like a ping pong ball. You must arrive, land and stay still for a minute or so to engage the audience and keep them attentive. Stillness is powerful. We are not suggesting you stand there frozen. Your body and gestures should be fluid. Then you are ready to walk purposefully to your next power position. Feel and enjoy the intentional energy you build.
As with all aspects of public speaking, the more you practice this behavior, the more you will internalize how to direct your physical energy to maximize your impact. While we don’t “choreograph” a speaker’s movement, we do work with clients to align ideas and energy with actual movement. Intentional movement is the ultimate power. It can make the difference between a good speech and a great one.
“Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul’s weather to all who can read it.” Martha Graham