Today we’re going to look at how we can use the stage to enhance our speech. When the stage (we’re going to assume stage to refer to your speaking area whether you have a real stage or not) is used effectively, it can make you look like a pro. On the other hand, it can ruin your speech if used improperly. Especially if it becomes a distraction.
Why is it important? Well, think about the last time you watched someone give a presentation. Were they standing still? Worse yet, were they stiff as a board? Standing still may not have been a distraction and they probably have an OK speech, but it didn’t do anything to add flair, or more importantly, help you get their point!
Like visual aids, moving can also enhance and drive your point home -when used effectively!
I learned from Darren LaCroix that you need to move with a purpose. Today we’re going to learn what that means. But first lets look at some no-nos for moving on stage.
1. Pacing – Pacing is a very bad idea. You audience might as well have bought a ticket to a tennis match because while you’re moving from the left of the stage to the right of the stage, they are following you. Very much like watching the tennis ball go left and right, left and right. They won’t remember what you said, only that you gave them whiplash!
2. Swaying – Swaying or rocking left and right is just as bad as pacing. While you are rocking side to side, they are rocking with you. Like a cruise ship going through rough waters, your audience will get sea sick! It tends to come from nervousness and you may be doing this unknowingly. The best way to find out is to record yourself and watch. You’ll see it.
3. Flapping your wings – Waving your arms around is quite a dangerous one. Mainly because, and like swaying, you may not know you’re doing it until you again watch a video of yourself or someone tells you you’re doing it. More often than not, you audience won’t tell you. They’ll be polite and keep those comments to themselves. On the other hand, keeping your hands at your sides will make you look stiff and boring, so what to do?
There other distractions out there but now lets focus on the right things to do.
1. Use your arms and hands for emphasis – When expressing large or small quantities, use them to show their size. “the beast was THIS big!” (holding your arms out wide). Or the opposite, “I was this close to winning” “holding 2 fingers together).
Another thing is to hold out your hand. There are times when ready to point, but that could be construed as aggressive. Instead, hold out your hand as if to ask them to take it.
When emphasizing, you could pound your fist into your other hand.
You can rotate between these as well as keeping your hands at their sides. But give each gesture a purpose. Meaning, it must have a positive effect on your audience. If not, don’t do it and keep your hands in 1 place until you need them.
2. Choreograph your speech – This involves taking your speech and dividing it into sections. Say, one section per point. Or one section per story, but break it up. Then give each section a place on your stage. Leave the center of your stage for introduction and conclusion.
Center stage – introduction
Left stage – dog story
Center stage, but a bit back – cat story
Right stage – bird story
Center stage – conclusion
When speaking, stay in your corresponding spot and only move when you’re transitioning verbally between sections. Also try not to mix spots up because your audiences mindset might trigger back to the wrong story.
In the following video, you’ll see that I’ve divided my speaking area into 3 sections where I start off my speech and end my speech at centre stage and I move between the left and right side of the speaking area with different stages of my speech.
There are times when you’re restricted to a small area. In the following video, you’ll see that I stay in 1 spot throughout the entire speech.
Its the same speech as before but in a different area. The problem is the room is a circular boardroom and I could move into the centre to address everyone at the same time, but there will always be someone with my back to them. Therefore, I decided to stay at 1 end of the room and unfortunately, planted in that one place in order to ensure I’m not putting my back to anyone.
So there you have it. Using the stage in an effective manner can play as strong a role in your speech as having props. We all know that a picture or object is worth a thousand words, now your movements can also be worth just as much.
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