CLASSIC: Moving like a Master

You’ve almost mastered your voice and material.  Now it’s time to build on that and incorporate essential movement.

What should you do during your talk?  Where to do it? How to do it?  Why should you do it . . . and when?

Today we begin to incorporate meaningful movement into your presentation – movement that reinforces your message in positive ways and helps you deliver an especially powerful presentation.

First, think about distance.  Your distance from your audience significantly impacts the degree of connectivity you share with audience members.

Many speakers are unaware of the effect that distance-from-audience can have on their talk.  The formal term for how distance affects the relationship between speaker and audience is called “proxemics.”  This is simply lingo for your proximity to the audience – how far from your audience you stand.  Altering that distance throughout your talk can enhance your message in ways you intend.

You achieve four distinct effects by varying the distance that you maintain between you and your audience.  A distinguished anthropologist, Edward T. Hall, developed the concept of how these four distances communicate vastly different messages from speaker to audience.

The Four Spaces

Let’s look at the Four Spaces and how you can use them to achieve certain effects. They can animate your presentation and enhance that 3D effect I often refer to.

First, the most common space is public space, and this is a distance of more than 12 feet from your audience. Obviously, this space is necessary when you deliver a lecture to a large audience of, say, 200 persons or more.

The second space is social space.

This space is occupied by the speaker who wants to connect in a personal way with his audience. It’s the space from four feet to 12 feet from your audience. Think of a seminar of 12 students with a professor in close proximity. Here, eye contact is frequent and effective. A conversational style is possible and desirable. In fact, conversational and relaxed style is essential in this scenario.

The third space is personal space. This space begins at 18 inches from a person and extends out to approximately four feet. It is conversational space and is generally not utilized in public speaking.

The fourth space is intimate space. This space is highly personal and you must be invited into this space. Without an invitation, you invade this space at your own risk. You make others feel uncomfortable, and they may respond in any number of ways, few of which will please you.

Now, let’s script your movements.

Coordinate your movements with major segments of your talk. Script them into your presentation as if you were performing a play. For instance, follow the script below. Following each quote, the indented statements describe the actions you take:

SPEAKER:   “My talk has three major points. As I share these points with you tonight, I want you to consider how each of these powerful issues affect you, personally. The first major point?”

<<Bow head and walk slowly to the left. Take ready stance. Look up at audience. >>

SPEAKER:   “The first major point is Humility. In this we are the same as our earliest fathers and mothers . . . .”

<<Look to your right and walk slowly, meeting the eyes of several audience members in turn. Stop in ready position. >>

SPEAKER:   “The second major point is Confidence. Surely there is not one among us who has not felt the fear of failure, of being judged unworthy . . . .”

<<Look to the center and walk slowly to center-stage. Stop and assume ready position. Gesture with both hands in supplication.>>

SPEAKER:   “The third and most important point is this – Understanding of a kind that passes beyond . . . etc., etc. . . .”

The movements thus accomplished are displayed in the diagram. This type of broad movement accentuates the major points of your talk. You anchor each point at a different part of the stage:

Point 1 to the Left

Point 2 to the Right

Point 3 to the Center

This scripted movement series is a highly visual reinforcement to the organization of your talk. Coupled with the proper hand gestures and expressiveness of face and voice, this series movement invests your message with immediacy and dimensionality and increases its impact. You hammer home the three points with a visual element coupled with the aural element.

All of this carefully considered movement about the stage also conveys to the audience that you are in control. You own the stage. So act like you own it; don’t behave like a visitor who cannot wait to depart.

It’s your space, so make good use of it. Learn to be comfortable in that space and to utilize all of the space at your disposal. At the same time, apply the principles found here. Do not move, just to be moving.

The combined effect of movement, position, and spoken message connects you firmly with your audience; appropriate movement deepens the connection and moves you from 2D Presenting to 3D Presenting.