Hey Speaker, What’s Your Room IQ?

by drjim on April 19, 2011

All Rooms Are Not Created Equal…

All Rooms Are Not Created Equal…

So how do you get ready to deliver a speech? Write out your words? Create some PowerPoint slides? It turns out that there’s one very important thing that you may have been missing – taking control of the room that you’ll be speaking in

All The World’s A Stage – Including Your Room

Sometimes when you give a speech, you actually do stand on a stage. However, other times you just stand in the front of a room. No matter how you do it, as the speaker you get to define how large your “stage” is.

The larger the room (and the audience) the larger you’ll want your stage to be. This means that you’ll use the left and right portions of the stage while you give your speech. If you’re talking in a smaller room, or to a smaller audience, then you’ll want to limit the amount of stage space that you are using in order to boost the level of intimacy that your audience feels.

As we’ve all seen when we’ve watched the really polished speakers, you never have to just limit yourself to the front of the room. If it works with your speech and if you are comfortable doing it, then you can walk to the back of the room while talking – as long as it works with what you are currently saying.

Finally, where your audience is sitting can be very important. We’ve all seen situations where the first few rows of a room are left empty by an audience that sat towards the back. As the speaker, you can invite (or insist that) your audience to fill in the front seats before you begin to speak.

How To Set Up Your Stage

One thing that you need to remember as a speaker: you control the room. Although there are sometimes limitations to what can be done, it never hurts to ask to have a room configured in the best way to match your speech.

One possible configuration is to have the chairs in the room arranged in a circle. This is a great way to make it easy for members of your audience to talk to each other. An alternative is to arrange the chairs in a “U” shape that allows eye contact and conversation between members of the audience while still keeping everyone’s focus on you, the speaker.

As your audience becomes larger, your seating options become smaller. Generally for formal presentations, the standard classroom seating structure with rows and columns of seats works the best. When you are faced with this type of seating system, you still have the ability to control the room.

In order to take charge of a room, you need to be able to take your speech to your audience. This means that where you give your speech is up to you. You own the stage and you get to decide where you want to stand – and move to.

There is no one correct answer to the question of where a speaker should stand during a speech. Some prefer to remain at or close to the lectern, while others roam the entire stage. Pick which technique works best for both you and your audience.

Take Control Of Your Proximity

Your physical distance from your audience can be a key part of your speech. As the speaker, you control how much of a gap there is between you and the people that you are talking to.

The greater the distance, the more formal the speech will be interpreted as being. Since you have the ability to move around on the stage, you can reduce the amount of space between you and your audience no matter how big the room is. By reducing this space, you can make your speech become more intimate and connect more closely with your audience.

What All Of This Means For You

When you are giving a speech, you are in charge of everything and this includes the room in which you are delivering your speech. Taking the time to set up the room in order to match your speech is one of your most important tasks as a speaker.

When you are setting up the room that you’ll be speaking in, you can control where your audience sits – are they far away from you, or are they up close? You can change the layout of the room based on the type of speech that you are giving – is it an intimate talk or is it a big presentation?

Speakers know that how they set up the room will determine how close they can get to their audience. If done correctly, then the room will help the speaker to make a positive lasting impression on the audience.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What do you think that you can do to get your audience to sit closer to you rather than far away?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So we all know that humor is one of a speaker’s most powerful tools. However, just exactly how best to use this tricky beast is something that we all continue to struggle with. What we’d like to be able to do is to present our audiences with fresh humor that everyone finds funny; however, not all speakers know how to go about doing this. It turns out that observational humor is your ticket to success…

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Fred E. Miller April 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm

First, to answer your question, would be an offer to give away a two free copies of my book to someone sitting in the first three rows.

Other things to check for are:
Sound system
What’s going to be going on next door
Lighting
Temperature adjustments
Line of sight for audience – Are there pillars, signs or anything else in the way?
Sunlight thru windows and can it be blocked

Thanks for the Post!

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