When Speaking on Stage, Move Strategically
Do you remember Johnny Carson giving his nightly monologue?
Every time Johnny began, he stood on the same spot for twenty-seven years. The only thing Johnny did from this spot was to make people laugh. Over time, you knew precisely where Johnny was going to and when he stopped and stood at this spot, you were conditioned to laugh. Like Johnny, you too can condition and “anchor” your audience.
If called on to make a speech or give a presentation, you want to select three points on the stage from which to speak.
The first point is the center of the stage, where you will do most of your talking. We will call this point “A,” or the “Power or Neutral Zone.”
The second point will be to your left. This is the “Negative Zone,” which we call point “B.” From this side you talk about negative or bad news. Talk about a competitor or competing product. If you are a candidate, you talk about the incumbent’s record from this point. If raising money, you discuss the negative impacts of the social problem that you are trying to stop. In a selling situation, you talk about the downside or risk of not going forward with your product.
When you have something wonderful and exciting to talk about, go to the other side of the stage and speak from the “Positive Zone,” or point “C.” Here’s where you excite and compliment your audience. Everything we want the audience to agree with or like is said from here. If raising money for a charity, here’s where you explain how this charity will solve the problems. In a selling situation, here is where you describe solving the audience’s problem(s). This is the “heaven if you do” side.
If possible, I like to visit each venue on the evening before I am scheduled to present a speaking seminar in that location. I like to stand at various locations on the stage, and anchor the positive feelings I want to experience the next day to the view from each position. I link feelings such as self-confidence, energy, clear thinking, and other resourceful states of mind to my view of the room from the stage. The next day, as I stand at each of those locations, the view would serve as an anchor for the feelings I’d previously selected. What follows are some Speaking Mastery tips to help you connect with your audiences every time…
- Aimlessly meandering around the room or pacing back and forth is ineffective! They are also signs of nervousness. Determine your movement by whom you are focusing on.
- Get close to your audience. Position yourself as near as possible without invading their personal space. You want to feel connected to them and know that they feel connected to you.
- Confining yourself to a podium is too restrictive; if speaking behind one is your only option, Make What You Say Listenable for Every Audience Member
- When you move you should do so to be in a better position to talk to the next person. Who will you next smile at and engage in a one-on-one conversation?
- Avoid pacing back and forth needlessly. (This tip is essential enough to warrant repeating.)
- Always keep your body facing your audience as you move. Keep your shoulders squared and your head facing toward the person with whom you are speaking.
- Never (ever!) turn your back on the crowd. This point is not only good advice, it is a must! Turning your back can send the subliminal message that you do not care about your audience or your message.
- Even if you have to move backward, try to keep part of your body facing your audience. This will allow you to keep your connection.
- Once you get to where you are going, stop. Stand and deliver from a confident speaking position. Lean forward so you present a posture that connects you with your audience.
- Have FUN!
Remember: you own the room. Move strategically to have an engaging conversation and to condition your audience to the positive outcome you want them to receive.