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Public Speaking Course: 

Gimme Three Steps

Do you recall the song by Lynyrd Skynyrd? 'Gimme three steps, gimme three steps mister, gimme three steps towards the door.' I try to remember the words to that song when I am moving around during a presentation.

Here are some ideas for moving on stage that I teach in my public speaking course. When you are on the stage, make sure that you have purposeful movement.  If you take a step, go at least three steps in that direction to cue the audience that you are moving for a reason. One of the biggest problems I see, even with top speakers, is that many of them wander around or take a step here and a step there. This is extremely distracting  and annoying to the audience.

When making an important point during your presentation, move toward the audience. Three steps forward from center stage is a very powerful position that will command attention (especially if you walked right off the stage and fell on your face -- hahaha).

Upstage (away from the audience) left and right are weak positions. They can be used when you feel you are overpowering the audience or when you want to remove attention from yourself. I use these speaking positions when I direct the audience to do some task, such as talk among themselves.

Upstage center is also a strong position, but one that makes you appear disconnected from the audience. I usually avoid this position.

When I want to be more playful or really get the audience involved, I'll walk right into the crowd. I might have to come down off the stage, but it's worth it. Good public speakers will get really connected with the audience. I am also sending a message that I know what I am doing. I don't need any notes. I don't need any visuals. I don't need anything but interaction with them. They love it!

The main thing you have to watch out for when you are out in the audience is that in large rooms with lots of attendees many people can't see you, so they start to lose interest if you stay out there too long. This is counteracted if you are being projected on a large screen and you have an on-the-ball and well-rehearsed video crew. (If you don't alert the video crew ahead of time of your intentions, they will be scrambling to follow you and it won't look good on the screen.) You will probably be lit poorly too. When you are being projected, think about toning down your overall movement because it's not easy to follow you wildly around the stage with a video camera. These movements are best practiced during your public speaking course in order to master their effectiveness.

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