Don’t Be a Stick in the Mud…Move!

When you have to deliver a live presentation, moving around a bit while you speak is a good idea.

Movement does a couple of things that benefit, both you and your audience.

Lower body movement helps to release any nervous tension you might feel and allows you to better communicate a sense of energy and passion for your ideas. Most speakers experience some degree of nervous tension and using lower body movement is a good way to positively recycle this energy.

For your audience, it presents a dynamic, rather than a static, image and is much more engaging to watch. Audiences like speakers who can move in this way, while avoiding pacing and repetitive nervous movement.

Here’s an easy formula for how to move during your presentation.

Follow this simple formula: Look-Move-Plant.

Look at an individual in the audience, move (keeping eye contact with that individual), and plant your feet before moving again. Failure to plant your feet results in pacing, which can annoy your audience and make you look nervous.

When delivering a stand-up presentation, start moving with a step or two towards the audience right at the beginning of your talk. For optimal benefit, you should move approximately 50% of the time. However, this may vary based on whom your audience is, your physical environment, and what you feel is appropriate for the moment.

Now, some tips on where to move during your presentation.

Own the space. Use as much of the stage, or the front of the room, as is practical for the situation and audience you have. Often, speakers stay confined to one small area when they could use much more space and keep the audience more engaged.

Move away from the lectern. The audience will really enjoy it if you stay out from behind the lectern. Move towards your audience, but not closer than about six feet away from persons in the front row.

Some parting tips…

Avoid standing in front of, or moving through, the LCD projector beam if possible.

Be careful about moving into an audience too much—it can get annoying for those whose backs are to you.

It’s okay to move into a U-shaped room as long as you follow the Look-Move-Plant formula above.


Picture of Steve Mandel

Steve Mandel

Steve founded Mandel Communications in 1983. He is a renowned presentation skills trainer and coach and the author of the highly successful book Effective Presentation Skills. In addition to serving as a key Mandel company executive, Steve thrives on working directly with clients in one-on-one coaching and group workshop settings. He has a deep understanding of the communication challenges faced by professionals and executives in high-stakes settings and works with clients to pinpoint and address mission-critical communication needs. Steve's business success and his avocation as an accomplished amateur astrophotographer have earned him special recognition in Forbes magazine.
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