Move!: 5 tips for taking full advantage of stage space

Move!
5 tips for taking full advantage of stage space

by Catherine Ahern

Whether you’re on a stage or in a meeting room, you probably have space to move around during your presentation. Use it wisely. Pacing back and forth will distract your audience, but purposeful movements will make your speech more persuasive, engaging and memorable.

Follow these tips for making the most of the space available to you:

  1. Make your main point from the middle. The center of your presentation space is known as your “power position.” Stand there when you state the main idea of your message. Return to it at the end of your speech when you reiterate that core message.Tip: If the stage is deep, move your power position forward, toward your audience.
  1. Move to the left and right. Plan how you will break your speech into separate physical spaces. You might present the pros of a position from stage right (that’s the audience’s left) and the cons from stage left. If your speech has three pieces of supporting evidence, give the first from stage right, the second from center stage and the third from stage left. Note: Always consider your audience’s perspective. For example, if you’re telling a chronological story, tell the beginning of the story from their left and move to their right as you approach the end. Because Western audience members have been trained to think of the passage of time from left to right, that order will feel logical to them.
  1. Walk forward. When you want to emphasize something, move nearer to the audience, toward the edge of the stage. That movement also works well if you’re pretending to tell the audience a secret.
  1. Move into your audience’s space. If the configuration of your presentation space allows for it, consider leaving the stage and walking among your audience members. Entering their space will increase trust, and the novelty of your movement will grab attention. Remember: When you move among your audience, bolster your connection further by making direct eye contact and smiling with multiple people. Focusing for too long on one person can make the rest of the audience feel ignored, and they will become disengaged.
  1. Analyze your movement. Videotape your practice sessions or revisit a tape from a previous presentation. Watch the video all the way through, focusing specifically on your movement. That will allow you to identify any distracting mannerisms, such as dragging your feet, rocking back and forth or clicking your heels—and to remedy them.

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