Given the choice, do you choose to speak behind the lectern, or take the lapel mic and roam free? I choose the latter, but recommend speakers I coach do whichever they are most comfortable with.
When speakers who normally prefer the protection of the lectern decide to challenge themselves by going with the lapel mic, one of the things we work on is how they move.
Standing on the open stage lets the audience see you. This is powerful.
But with such exposure, the question “What do I do with my body?” becomes more prescient.
I support and encourage natural movement when speaking. (Aside: pacing, on the other hand, is often distracting for the audience and – in my experience – a sign the speaker is not totally comfortable.)
For natural movement to have its full power when you are speaking to a large group, root yourself first in stillness. Not the contrived sort, or the clasp-your-hands-tightly-behind-your-back-so-I-don’t-pace.
Rather, aim for the kind of stillness that says, “I am here for you, dear audience” (to quote, perhaps, surprisingly, my clown teacher, Rick Allen). “What I have to say is important and I want you to hear it.”
That kind of presence and physical stillness tends to 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.
Delve more into this topic in the upcoming Speaker Coaching course with Rachael West. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.