Given the choice, do you choose to speak behind a lectern, or do you like a lapel mic so you can roam free? I choose the lapel, but recommend new speakers I coach do whichever they find most comfortable.
Sometimes, speakers who normally prefer the protection of the lectern challenge themselves to use a microphone. We then do some work on how they move on stage.
Standing on the open stage lets the audience see you. This is powerful.
It also raises the sometimes awkward question, “But what do I do with my body?”
I encourage speakers to allow natural movement.*
To find your natural movement, and its full power, first root yourself first in stillness. The stillness I am talking about is not contrived, and it’s not the clasp-my-hands-tightly-behind-your-back-so-I-don’t-do-something-stupid kind.
Rather, stillness is relaxed and open. It says to the crowd, “I am here for you, dear audience” (I quote my clown teacher, Rick Allen).
“What I have to say is important and I want you to hear it.”
When you find that presence and physical stillness, you force emotion into your voice, and expression into your face (in a good way!). Many conferences are so large these days that speakers are projected onto a large screen, making it even more potent for your audience.
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*Pacing, on the other hand, is often distracting for the audience and – in my experience – a sign the speaker is not totally comfortable.