All The World’s A Stage – You Just Have To Know How To Use It

by drjim on July 21, 2015

When you are on stage, do you know how to use it?

When you are on stage, do you know how to use it?
Image Credit: Chris Smart

When we give a speech we may not always be on a stage. However, we always have a space that has been given to us to use as our own during the speech. All too often we see speakers doing things that they should not be doing – pacing, circling, hanging out in one corner or another. A stage (or speaking area) is a fantastic tool for speakers that helps to boost the importance of public speaking, but how are we supposed to use it?

As A Way To Show Action

For someone who does a lot of talking, there sure seems to be a lot of action in my speeches. I find myself telling stories in which people do thing, objects move around, etc. It’s great when I tell my audience about all of this motion, but when I’m on stage, it’s even better if I show them.

When I’m telling a story in which a character moves around, I need to make those movements on my stage so that my audience can “see” what’s going on in my story. I can also create a virtual object like a door and open it and go through it if it will help make my story clearer.

One important thing to realize about showing action while you are up on stage is that not all actions are created the same. What this means is that depending on how your story is going, your actions can be delivered either fast or slow. You need to match what you are doing on the stage with what is going on in your speech.

As A Way To Create A Speech Timeline

Many of the speeches that we give deal with the tricky issue of time. The challenge that we face as speakers is that although we may move through a considerable amount of time in our speech, we may not be able to bring our audience along with us if they don’t realize that time is passing.

This is where your stage can come into play. What you are going to want to do is to stand in one position while you share with your audience what happened at a given point in time. Then, as time moves on, you’ll want to move to another spot on the stage in order to visually show your audience that time has advanced.

If you are speaking in the western world, your audience will read from left to right. What this means for you as a speaker is that you are going to want to start your time-based movement on your stage from your right to your left. This will match with how your audience thinks that you should move through time.

As A Way To Structure Our Stage

Some of our speeches don’t actually have a clear sequence of events to them. Yes, we’ve got a lot of information that we want to share with our audience, but each one of the items that we want to share basically stands by itself. You can use the stage to help communicate information like this also.

What you are going to want to do is to want to associate different spots on the stage with different ideas that you want to cover in your speech. As you complete an idea that you want to share with your audience, you will want to physically move to a different spot on the stage.

The power of this technique is that it allows you to show the sequence of ideas that make up your speech. You’ll want to be careful to pick a good place on stage to start your speech and a meaningful spot to wrap things up.

What All Of This Means For You

It can be rather lonely up there on stage – really it’s only you and your words. However, it turns out that you really have something else to help you to deliver a powerful and effective speech: the stage. Now all you have to do is to figure out how to use it correctly to maximize the benefits of public speaking.

If the speech that you are giving has action in it, either something that you did or something that a character that you are talking about did, then use your stage to show your audience that action is happening. If what you are talking about happens over time, then start at one place on the stage and move side-to-side to show your audience that time is progressing. Finally, if your speech has multiple parts to it, then you can assign a part to a place on the stage and move from spot to spot as you move through your speech.

All too often we overlook the power of the stage when we are giving a speech. Many speakers take the center of the stage and spend their entire speech just standing there. Don’t do this! Instead, plan out how you can use your stage to provided your speech with both variety and impact.

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

Question For You: Do you think that there is any part of a stage that you should not use?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I just happen to speak English. I’d like to be able to tell you that I speak it very well; however, that’s really up to other people to decide. What I can tell you is that it is the only language that I speak fluently and it’s the language that I’ve always spoken. This provides me with an unfair advantage over many other speakers – they have accents that can distract an audience when they are speaking in English. What can they do in order to become more effective speakers?

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