Acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards are made standing still behind a microphone. On the other hand, most keynote presenters walk around on the stage.
When preparing a presentation or speech, you need to decide whether or not you will be standing behind a lectern. And as a side note – Toastmasters are famous for the distinction between the lectern (a stand, one that often displays the logo of the venue, or organization holding a conference) and the podium (a raised platform or stage).
In some situations, standing behind a lectern is appropriate. If your presentation is being filmed, for example at a press conference, for a television show or a training video, any movement may put you out of range of the camera or the optimal lighting. If you need extensive notes, it’s better to keep them on the lectern for reference, instead of forgetting the information you need to convey, or reading your presentation slides. And the room set-up at conferences sometimes does not allow for movement – because there are no portable microphones, there is not enough room between the stage and the audience, or you need to be near your computer to show a demo.
That being said, in the majority of presentations, moving away from the lectern will show that you are comfortable, and it allows you to connect more closely with your audience. The rule of thumb is to move with purpose. Or, put in another way: don’t move around on the stage just for the sake of moving – that means you are pacing, which actually distracts from your content.
Walking from one place on the stage to another is a visual cue to your audience that you are transitioning to a new topic. Also, some speakers use a method of setting a scene, similar to a play: one scene plays out on one side of the stage, the next part of the story plays out on the other side. This is very effective when you present two sides of an argument, as long as you are consistent, and stick to the same side of the stage each time you address the same side of the issue.
Your movement should emphasize your points. For a take-away, step forward towards your audience as you work up to your main point; then stand still to deliver your key content.
In moving around the stage, be careful with the following:
- It deserves repeating: don’t around the stage just for the sake of moving.
- Using "weak" motion. Backing up, or walking through key points, will dilute your message.
- Walking into the seating area. While you may better connect with some audience members, you are turning your back on others. Use sparingly, for example for a Q&A session.
- Over-emphasizing the staging. You want to be natural; if movement appears too staged, it will look contrived (as in, “I am now moving to the place I stood for point 1 of the story”).
Just as you practice the words of your speech, you should also rehearse your movement on the stage to give your presentation the maximum impact.
Find out more about clubs in District 4 Toastmasters: http://www.d4tm.org