Gimme Three Steps
Do you remember that song by Lynyrd Skynyrd? 'Gimme three steps, gimme
three steps mister, gimme three steps towards the door.' I try to remember
that song when I am moving on stage during a presentation.
Here are some tips for moving on stage that I teach in my public speaking
course. When you are moving on the stage, make sure that your movement
has a purpose. If you take a step, go at least three steps in that direction
to cue the audience that you are moving for a reason. One of the biggest
problems I see, even when coaching top speakers, is that many of them
wander around or take a step here and a step there. This is extremely
distracting to the audience.
When making an key point during a speaking engagement, move toward
the audience. Three steps forward from center stage would be a very
powerful position that would command attention (especially if you walked
right off the stage and fell on your face -- hahaha).
Upstage (away from the audience) left and right are weak positions.
They can be used when you feel you are overpowering the audience or
when you want to remove attention from yourself. I use these speaking
positions when I direct the audience to do some task, such as talk among
Upstage center is a strong position, but one that makes you appear
disconnected from the audience. I usually avoid this position.
When I want to be playful and/or really get the audience involved,
I'll go right into the crowd. I might have to come down off the stage,
but to me it is worth it. Good public speakers get really connected
and I feel like one of them when I am out there. I am also sending a
message that I really know what I am doing. I don't need any notes.
I don't need any visuals. I don't need anything but interaction with
them. They love it!
The main thing you have to watch out for when you are out in the audience
is that in large rooms with lots of attendees many people can't see
you, so they start to lose interest if you stay out there too long.
This is counteracted if you are being projected on a large screen and
you have an on-the-ball and well-rehearsed video crew. (If you don't
alert the video crew ahead of time of your intentions, they will be
scrambling to follow you and it won't look good on the screen.) You
will probably be lit poorly too. When you are being projected, think
about toning down your overall movement because it's not easy to follow
you wildly around the stage with a video camera. These movements are
best practiced on your public speaking course in order to master their
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