Presenters: Do You Walk on Stage or Take the Stage?

Good actors come on stage, deliver their lines, and leave.  Great actors take the stage.  Great speakers need to do the same.  

What do I mean?  When some actors enter the scene, all eyes turn to them.  If you’re in the audience, you can’t help it – it’s the combination of emotion and surprise.  You’re not quite sure what they’re going to do next, and you can’t wait to see.  

Speakers that have the same quality ooze charisma and enchant their audiences.  How can you pull this kind of energy off?  Following are 5 tips for taking the stage.

1.  De-clutter your mind.  Most of us, when we get ready to give a presentation, are nervous.  And we’ve got lots of random things on our mind.  So, we radiate that mental confusion to the audience.  We’re half there, but not completely committed.  The audience senses that state, and responds by half-committing itself.  The result?  No one’s focused – not you, not the audience.  So clear your mind and get ready to go on stage clean and uncluttered.  

2.  Focus your passion.  Once you’re uncluttered, you can focus on the passion you feel for your subject.  That’s the other half of charisma – emotion, specifically, focused emotion.  Without some kind of passion for the subject, you won ‘t capture the audience’s attention.

3.  Come from someplace.  Great actors use a simple trick:  they pretend they’re coming on stage from another scene.  That gives them history and purpose.  And it makes them more interesting.  The average actor walks on stage and then starts to deliver her lines.  The difference is astonishing.  You can use the same trick.  Come from somewhere – somewhere emotional and interesting.  That way you walk on stage already passionate and engaged.  

4.  Move less and emote more.  Many speakers confuse energy with activity.  They get happy feet, and buzz around the stage randomly, irritating the audience and confusing themselves.  You can’t have a clear head if you’ve got busy feet.  So slow the body down and up the emotion.  The two go together.  

5.  When you do move, have a destination.  We’re always interested in watching someone with a destination or a goal in mind.  So don’t move just to move.  Get a destination and a purpose, then move.  It will make you fascinating to the audience.  

Don’t just come on stage.  Take the stage.  And be prepared to become charismatic.  

 

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks Nick. I’ve found Amy Cuddy’s advice helpful to reduce nerves and de-clutter my mind. (See the video of her talk: http://wp.me/p1PHR3-hI .)
    On your 3rd point, I really like your idea of coming from somewhere else, and perhaps the best place to come from would be the audience’s shoes (metaphorically). Telling a story of a typical situation that people in the audience find themselves in would give proper context and real-life emotion to the rest of your talk.
    On points 4 and 5 (about moving), John Zimmer recently posted a video along similar lines, which you might find interesting: http://wp.me/pwfa1-2lj
    Nice ideas in this post. I’ll try to put them into practice in my upcoming talks!

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