Don't let the lectern swallow you whole - how to add movement to your presentations

Don't let the lectern swallow you whole - how to add movement to your presentations

Caution: Man-eating Lectern!

Beware of spending your whole presentation standing behind the
lectern.  To make your speech come to life, you need to move around the
stage a little - or that lectern will swallow you whole and turn you into a
block of wood!

Remember Courtney Wood in The Apprentice?  What was it about his
presentations that made his pitch so lacklustre?

To be fair, he was having to perform under very high pressure, unrealistic
circumstances – you are unlikely to be asked to pitch a new product or idea
to an auditorium full of industry experts with only two days from concept
to design to presentation. No wonder he succumbed to nerves.

If you watched the coaching he was given before his final presentation, a
lot of the work was around movement.

It can be very hard to move naturally when giving a talk.  Nervous novices
(and even some experienced presenters) tend to fall into one of two camps:
the ‘block of wood,’ or the ‘caged tiger.’
The block of wood will stand with all muscles tense and joints locked into
position, motionless apart from possibly the odd spasmodic hand flap.  The
caged tiger, on the other hand, is never still, restlessly pacing back and
forth, inducing motion sickness in his audience.

How not to do it: Gordon Brown's 'Power for a Purpose' speech on 16/8/15
Walking 500 miles...
Apparently he walked an astonishing 2400 steps (that's 1.3 miles) during
the 50-minute speech!

The ideal is, of course, somewhere between these two extremes.  Enough
movement to look natural and reassure your audience that you are not
carved from stone, not so much that you distract from the content you are
putting across.  The main point to remember is:
"Move with purpose"

Rather than having movement as a distraction, you can use it as a
technique to reinforce your message. Here are some ideas:
  • Separate your points

For each new point you make, take a pace or two to one side or the other
to separate ideas visually. Depending on the size of your audience, you
may want to mentally apportion them into three sections, and address your
first remarks to the centre, then turn slightly and speak to the section on the
right, then turn and speak to the section on your left.​
  • Reinforce your main idea

To reinforce an important point in your presentation, move closer to the
audience.  It's the same sort of body language that you'd use if you wanted
to share an especially juicy piece of gossip with a close friend, and
subconsciously implies that this is something worth listening to!
  • Demonstrate a timeline

Start at the audience's left to talk about the past, move to the centre to talk
about the present, then move to the audience's right to talk about the
  • Dialogue

Whether it's the pros and cons of an argument, or a story with two
characters speaking, help your audience follow along by choosing a
separate place to stand for each character's dialogue.

The idea is to move during transitions between points, then stand still while
you make your point.  This makes your movement appear natural, keeps
the audience’s attention and reinforces your message.  As with everything,
the more you do it, the more natural it will appear, so practise, practise,
practise! Don't forget to look at our articles on posture  and presentation for
some more top tips.

How do you incorporate movement into your presentations?  Do you have
any tips to share?  Add your comments below.


Walking 500 miles

Justine Posted by Justine

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