November 11th, 2019
Ever notice how that person who paces back and forth on the stage kinda makes you wonder if they’re digging a hole in the floor to escape?
Or the one who’s so frozen stiff you start to worry that she’s going to suffocate up there, which makes you stop breathing too?
Then there’s the one who just rocks back and forth from one foot to another so much that you start to feel a little seasick with the rocking.
And the one with the nervous flailing and pacing all over the stage actually exhausts you.
The way you show up in your body makes a huge difference in determining whether or not your message gets communicated effectively.
The words you say — important as they are — are a very small percentage of what your audience is experiencing.
Since your goal is to make a connection and get the yes, let’s look at a few ways what your body is doing might be undermining that connection — and what to do instead.
Lots and lots of speakers move way too much on stage. Movement in itself isn’t problematic, but unconscious movement is.
For most of my clients, the practice of planting their feet helps them contain and focus their energy — so rather than spending it all over the stage, they send their energy through their words to their audience.
This is especially important at the beginning and at the end of your talk.
It’s also essential when you’re making an offer. When you’re delivering your central idea. When you’re delivering any key points.
When you plant your feet, it communicates authority and confidence.
Seems kind of obvious, right? Of course move on purpose.
Just like planting your feet, moving on purpose helps to communicate your authority.
It conveys the clarity of your presence, the focus of your ideas and the confidence of your expertise.
When you pace around the stage, your audience reads nervousness.
When you move on purpose, your audience reads confidence.
One of your purposeful ways to walk and move on stage is to move when you’re transitioning from one idea to the next.
This signifies to the audience “I’m changing lanes. Come with me.”
Do this when you’re moving from your intro to the meat of the content, when you’re moving from a story to the take-aways. When you’re transitioning into the offer.
If you combine it with a pause in your speech, you’ve created a clean slate for the audience to process what you’ve just said and be ready to hear what’s next.
It also can serve as a reminder to pause, to take a breath, to find the internal shift in yourself as you prepare for the next section of your talk.
That way you don’t railroad through the content, but breath as you move through it, and give it space to be heard.
I also call this space putty.
When you’re telling a story, tell the story with your body.
This doesn’t mean “act it out” as if you’re pantomiming the story.
This means bringing the story to life by bringing your physicality into your delivery. Put yourself inside the story. See the story as it’s happening. Let your body be impacted by the telling of the story, and let your body help you tell the story.
So yes! Move a lot! Let the story move you, and your audience will be moved.
Yes, pause your movement, too.
I’ve often talked about the power of the pause. (Check out this post to read more about how and when and why to pause in your speech.)
It’s also important to understand that your speech is not the only thing pausing.
When your hands pause, and your movement pauses, and your eyes pause, then I really feel the pause.
Let yourself land.
Right now — try it. Exhale. Land. In this moment.
We don’t often do that when speaking. We’re so wired and fired up that we blast all over the stage never fully arriving into the space.
That energy is great! AND, to land that energy, and really arrive, you gotta slow down and pause to really connect with your audience.
If you hang around these parts long enough, you’ll hear me talk over and over again about practice. Presenting is the part when you get to have a whole lot of fun —if you’ve practiced .
But practice is the hard part.
And most people just don’t do it.
Practice doesn’t just mean running your talk over and over again.
It means scales. You gotta do your scales. Or your hill sprints. Or your weight lifting.
Choose a skill to work on and WORK ON THAT SKILL.
So if you’re working on how to use movement to enhance the clarity of your presentation, do some rehearsals where your primary focus is on how & when you move through the space, and decide when it’s most powerful to stand still.
That way when you’re giving your talk, your body won’t be the channel for all your nerves to make you race around the stage. Instead all that energy will go towards delivering the most powerful talk possible to your audience.
Your audience will be moved by your message, rather than distracted by your movement.