Don’t Just Stand There- Productive Movement During a Presentation

If you have ever attended a lecture or presentation where the presenter spoke from behind a podium for the entire presentation than you understand just how boring and disengaging that is for an audience.  Movement during presentations sometimes gets a bad reputation because audiences might be distracted by mindless, repetitive pacing.  However, when movement is incorporated into a presentation the right way, it invites energy and visual interest to the presentation.  Here are a few ways you can effectively use body movement in your next presentation.

Never Move Without a Reason

The eye is naturally attracted to a moving object which means that every time you move it will attract the attention of the audience.  This means that too much movement can actually be distracting.  Therefore you need to have a reason every time you move.  You might step forward when you are arriving at an important point that requires the attention of the audience.  Similarly, you might take a step back to show that you have concluded your point and the audience can relax.  Obviously, you will need to move any time you are using a prop in your presentation.  You might have to walk over to the computer to click the next slide.  You might step closer to the screen to point at something of interest.  You might also need to walk to the front of the stage or room in order to address the audience.  Just be mindful that your movements should have a purpose.

Move to Create Transitions

Think of your presentation as you would an informative essay.  You break up writing by starting a new paragraph.  In speaking, you can break up your “paragraphs” by moving to create visual space.  A good time to move is when you are transitioning from one idea to another.  This lets the audience know that you are moving on to a new point.  It helps them to move on with you without losing interest.

Highlight Key Points

When you are speaking, movement can help you highlight key points, a call to action, or a punchline.  For example, if you walk forward and then suddenly stop you will direct your audience’s attention to what you are about to say.  These visual clues help you to place emphasis on what you are saying.  Just as a highlighted sentence commands attention, a sudden stop in movement also commands attention.

Demonstrate Passion

Movement can help you make it clear that you have a passion and conviction about what you are saying.  Just as you might add emphasis in writing by adding bold face, you can add emotional emphasis in speaking by making strong deliberate movements.  For example, if you take a few steps forward as you say the words “It’s time to make a change” you can add dramatic emphasis to your point.  These strong deliberate movements are what show audiences that you are passionate and it will help you deliver a presentation with purpose and power.

Create Energy

One of the hardest parts of giving any presentation is capturing (and keeping) the attention of the audience.  While it might seem much easier to stand behind the podium where you feel safe and secure, the fact is your audience will find it dull and boring.  You want to engage with your audience and make your presentation an interactive experience.  Moving around the stage and making use of the room is one of the best ways to make your presentation more energetic and engaging.