How To Own The Stage When You Give A Speech

How to make the stage your own
How to make the stage your own Image Credit: woodleywonderworks

When we give a speech, we want to find ways to hold on to our audience’s attention. Sure, the words that we are saying will be interesting to them, or so we hope. However, it turns out that there are other things that we can do that will allow us use the importance of public speaking to get our audience to listen to what we are saying. One of these is to take control of the stage. No matter how much or how little space you have to move around while you are giving your speech, you can use what space you have to add another layer to your speech. Doing so can turn your speech into a speech that your audience will remember.

How To Use Your Stage

When you give a speech, where do you stand? It can be all too easy to enter the stage when you are giving a speech and then just stand there. During your speech you don’t move. You might twist your body while giving your speech, but you don’t move. If you do this, then you have missed a major opportunity to deliver a powerful speech. Not moving is a mistake, but also walking continuously back and forth across the stage is also a mistake. If you do this then it is hard for your audience to concentrate on what you are saying. As speakers we need to understand that there are three reasons to us to move on stage. The first is that you want to create a timeline. The second is that you want to structure the stage. The third is that the action in your story prompts movement. All of these types of movements are particularly applicable when you are telling a story.

Move On Stage To Demonstrate Action

If you are telling a story as a part of your speech and the story has a character in it and the character in your story moves, then you should move also. An example of this would be if the character walks into her boss’s office to ask for a raise, then you – playing the role of the character – should repeatedly walk toward the spot on the stage where the office is represented. Alternatively, if you are speaking about handing out cards for a new business, walk across the stage as you pretend to place the cards into mail boxes along the way. If you are talking about how you are trying to lose weight but find yourself constantly walking to the refrigerator, then pick a spot on the stage to represent where the refrigerator is and then walk toward it. Finally, you can stagger backward while fending off an attack, or you can carefully feel your way through the house after the power has gone off. Fast or slow, your movements should be determined by the action that represents where you are in your story.

Move On Stage To Create A Timeline

If you give a speech that has segments that come one after another, give the first part of the speech at a place on the stage that represents the beginning of the timeline, and then move to different locations on the stage as you deliver each subsequent segment. People read from left to right, so start your timeline at your right, which is your audience’s left, and move across the stage from there. This way, as you move from point to point in your speech, you will also be transitioning visually. At the same time, in your speech transition verbally by saying something like “10 years later…” In spot one, you might share how you were blocked by a certain problem you had. Moving to spot two, you could share how you did research and discovered the solution that helped you overcome this problem. Moving on to spot three, you could share how your life has become better now that you have the solution you needed to solve the problem.

How To Structure Your Stage

When you are giving a speech, there are two ways to structure the stage. The first way is to use your ideas; the second way is to use imaginary characters as a part of your speech. The first approach is similar to using the timeline technique, but instead of having sequential events, you locate the main points of your speech on different parts of the stage. You can still use the timeline approach of moving from your audience’s left to right.

An example of doing this would be if you are talking about how to invest in a new business, you can start at spot one (on the audience’s left) and talk about how to get financing. You can then move to spot two to talk about how to buy inventory. And finally, you can move to spot three to talk about how to negotiate a sales deal. In the second method, you would place imaginary characters on stage, in spots you can refer back to visually. For example, if you give a speech about the advice your mother gave you as a child, set up a spot to the side of the stage where you visualize your mother sitting on the sofa. As you go through your speech talking about problems you have had in your life, refer back visually to where your mother is represented. Indicate that spot with your hand; while doing this, talk about how you applied her advice to your problems. “I was wondering how to deal with this problem, when I remembered what my mother always used to say… ”.

This is how a speaker can use their stage to add value to their speech. Use the stage to move with the action in your story, or create timelines or imaginary characters on stage. Make sure that you move for a reason. Remember that if you move constantly when you speak nothing would stand out. However, if you make sure that you move with purpose, your movements will mean something. Your movements will add emphasis, impact, emotion and clarity – and they won’t get lost in a sea of constant motion.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers we are always looking for new ways that we can use the benefits of public speaking to make our next speech even more powerful. We need to understand that when we are giving a speech, we may be standing on one of the most powerful tools that we have available to ourselves: the stage.

The stage can both work for us and against us. We don’t want to either stand in one place for our entire speech or wander around aimlessly. A good way to make use of your stage is to use it to show action. You can also use a stage to create a timeline. Move to different places on the stage as your story unfolds. The stage allows you to use your ideas and to invite imaginary characters into your speech.

We need to learn how to use the stage to make our next speech become that much more powerful. If we take the time to think about out speech and how we can use the stage to better tell it, then we can create not just a speech, but a complete performance that we can share with our next audience. By doing this, we’ll be able to give a speech that will be remembered long after we are done talking.

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

Question For You: Do you think that standing still can be a contrast to you moving around on your stage?

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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 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

When we give a speech, we want our audience to hear us, understand us, and then take action based on what we have shared with them. However, if the language that we speak is not the same language that our audience speaks, this can become difficult to do. Many of the audiences that we’ll be addressing speak English and so being able to speak English is an important skill for a speaker to have. If we speak English with an accent, it may be difficult for our audience to understand us. The good news is that there are things that we can do that can help us to minimize the impact of our accent.