July 22, 2015

How to Walk On the Stage While Presenting

Do you want to be a participant in a training program or a presentation where the presenter stands stiff in one place all throughout? Of course not! If you said yes, I guarantee you are lying or just saying that to be nice. Or, you've blocked out the last boring presentation out of your mind because it was too traumatic to sit through!  

Moving around the stage is critical to building rapport with audience and making the presentation memorable and engaging for everyone. Yes, even including you!  


If you're wondering how to stand on the stage with confidence and build interest with your audience, watch the videos below. 


How to Use the Stage Effectively 

What's more boring than watching a speaker that stands like a statue behind a lectern? The first tip I have to using the stage more effectively is to USE. THE. STAGE. Don't be afraid of it. That space is yours. Try walking occasionally back and forth throughout your presentation. But, take care never to show your side or back profile to the audience. This takes a bit of practice. In training programs in Kerala, I used to joke that if one knew some of the Thiruvathira dance steps, it may help to 'walk across' the stage while still facing the audience (so long you don't go around in a circle!). When entering the stage, it's easy to face the audience (or easier than exiting). When exiting, do not face your back to the audience. Think of how most Bharatanatyam dancers exit the stage. We usually see their face as they exit, as they walk backwards. So, if you need to go to a different part of the stage, walk backwards or diagonally backwards do not forget to keep facing the audience. Do not lose their eye contact.


Walking While Talking is .... Easy!

In this video, the commentator convinces us why movement is important for a presenter and how it impacts the audience. While he does share a few dos and don'ts about walking across the stage, he doesn't demonstrate the ideal stage walk that allows for maximum audience engagement.


Walk and Use Gestures

Zombie walking is reserved for the Thriller video! Don't do it on stage. Use natural gestures in addition to movement to appear more natural, confident and credible. 

Don't forget to maintain eye contact with the audience. Avoid looking only at particular people, like maybe your boss or the most senior person or your office buddy or friend. Gaze a little at everyone, keep them engaged. It is a fact if we feel someone is not paying attention to us when they are talking to us, we don't pay attention. A big part of feeling paid attention to is being looked at. Look, but do not stare! 



My Favorite Room and Stage Set Up

Set up your room for an effective and engaging presentation
What is the best way to set up a room for a presentation? In my opinion, if it is a smaller group (5-20), set up the desks or tables in a horseshoe or U format. Use the stage in front of the tables/desks, but also walk inside of the open U. What? Walk inside? Most newbies to presenting fear this the most. The presenter is not the only one vulnerable here. The audience is too. No one can hide in this set up. (Unlike rows of desks, where inevitably, everyone sits at the back, far from the presenter.) You as a presenter can make eye contact easier with everyone. Everyone in the audience can make eye contact easier with you and with each other! Also, keep in mind when you as a presenter make eye contact with the audience, to occasionally face your body toward that person or that group of people, not just turn your head or eyes in that direction. It's more natural and engaging!


What other tips do you have to share about walking on the stage? Do you have videos you'd like to share in the comment section below about examples of speakers who you think have done a great job in their stage presence? I look forward to interacting with you!

Jennifer Kumar is a coach helping Indian executives prepare for and deliver more powerful presentations to impress their American and Western clients

Related Posts: 

Using Your Arms in a Presentation 
How Can I Use the Stage Effectively in a Presentation? 
How Can I Avoid Using the Lectern (aka Podium)?  

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Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.