WORKING THE STAGE? Make The Stage Work For You!



The stage is not a two-dimensional experience where one trots back and forth. Oh no! Movement from back to front, from front to back, or from corner to corner on a diagonal are powerful moves, ones I employed in each of my World Championship of Public Speaking Competitions.



Starting at the back of the stage and moving to the front, I walked directly at my audience nodding and speaking simultaneously. Right away, the audience was on my side. Walking toward your audience while nodding has the magnetic effect of causing your audience also to start nodding their heads in agreement. The more nodding and speaking, the better you will feel, the more your audience will come into alignment, and ultimately the more successful your performance will be. A very cool trick, not only for public speaking but also to get an agreement with almost anyone. Try the walk and nod!




Likewise, while expressing denial in my speech, I began walking backwards to underscore how much I was backing away from the responsibilities in my life. Back, back, back I walked. Both these options of backing and forwarding are useful tools for emphasis while Zooming as well




Another stage trick is to walk in a diagonal. Try heightening the drama of a long timeline in your speech by walking in a diagonal. By walking from opposing corners, one creates the illusion of a longer distance than what is really there.




EXAMPLE: You add more comedy to how long it takes to get out of bed in the morning (or any other task that takes a long time) by illustrating the situation starting from one corner and eventually ending at the opposing corner. The stage size is the same, but to the audience the saunter appears longer.  Working it this way is to your advantage.  



Remember! When speaking to a crowd in terms of time, to create a scene for your audience, the movements are always backwards.  Block your stage from right to left on the timeline.




Will buy a house.                                     Now I’m successful.                  Broke as a student.


FUTURE                                                  PRESENT                                 PAST  


Stage Left Front                                      Center Stage Front                    Stage Right Front




A cautionary example: If you designate through your words or gestures you have grandma sitting in the middle of the room – she is to sit there throughout your speech. You cannot walk through your blocked place for grandma. Some speakers forget where they put their characters and walk right through them. Once you put grandma in center stage, she stays in center stage. 


To know the stage as intimately as possible at the World Championships of Public Speaking for thousands of speakers from around the world, we finalists walked barefoot on the platform as early as five in the morning. We were willing to take our shoes off. We were willing to get that close! Like the Shamans of old, we knew every creak and cranny by the end of our sessions. Give it a try.


Practice at the venue builds confidence. Treading the boards in advance of a presentation is a surefire way to help with stage fright. Early on, you will know the length, width, and breadth of your stage. Returning home, you can more accurately visualize complete success, having experienced your platform in person.


Practice walking and nodding. Use all four corners and everything in between! Expect the unexpected and be okay with that.