While I cannot take credit for the title of this article, those words have haunted me since I discovered them some time ago in which the writer was discussing animating your PowerPoint presentations, certainly good advice. I was fascinated by those words because movement in public speaking is vital if you want to keep the attention of your audience on you. What is fascinating about public speaking is that if you don’t move, then your listeners will.
The question is: do you want your audience moving, checking their phones, their iPads, or their email, or do you want their attention on you?
The answer is obvious: you want their attention on you.
Part of the secret in keeping your audience riveted to their seats is not only in the vocal variety of your voice and your facial expression, but also in your body movement.
If you stand perfectly still either at a lectern or on a stage, for example, then your rigidity will come through in your delivery. That is one of the reasons some audiences become fidgety.
If you choose not to use a lectern, which is most likely the case in a true presentation, you should walk, you should move, and you should use your body to help express what you are saying. By no means does this mean continual movement and it certainly doesn’t mean to pace. You may walk towards one side of the stage, for instance, stop, speak for a bit and then move to another area. There is no hard and fast rule.
If you are standing at a lectern, on the otherhand, my advice is that you change position with your body weight from one leg to the other. While speaking, use your hands and your arms as you talk. [I had a woman who constantly threw out her left arm as she delivered her presentation. When I asked about it, she said she was a member of Toastmasters and they told her she needed to move more. Throwing out one arm is not what I’m talking about regarding body language!]
The easiest way to accomplish good movement is to treat your audience as if you were having a conversation in your living room. If you were sitting in a room filled with people, you would be turning your body from one direction to another in order to acknowledge all those in attendance. Were you standing in a like situation, again you might step back at one point or you might step forward or to the side. In normal conversation, we all do this but we don’t think about.
Good public speaking skills mean that if you don’t move, your audience will. Treat your audience as if you were in conversation, use your body to help express what you are saying, and ‘make it move to make it memorable.’
Watch my video about dynamic public speaking skills and pay attention to my vocal variety and body language.