Standing behind a lectern while presenting can make you seem stiff, unemotional, and disconnected. A lectern creates a barrier between you and your audience—it not only blocks out two-thirds of your body, but also restricts your natural hand gestures. The lectern may even entice you to lean on or hold it, making you look tense and uneasy.
By walking around the room and getting closer to your audience, you establish a bigger presence in the room and are harder to ignore. You encourage your audience to move their heads and eyes to follow you around the room, so they’re less likely to doze off during your presentation. Your watchful eyes may also prevent them from using their tablets and phones.
Walking about can make your presentation appear like a natural conversation and thus help you overcome any public speaking anxiety. You can also better gauge your audience’s reactions.
- Always present standing up, even if you’re presenting to an audience of one or two. Standing while presenting not only lets you make better eye contact with your audience, but also helps you breathe and project your voice more clearly. You will appear to have more influence since your audience will be literally “looking up to you.”
- Move around naturally. Mix it up to avoid looking nervous. Don’t always walk from the front to the back or from side to side.
- Make your movements look relaxed and confident. Do not tap your foot, rock, sway, swing, or dance on the spot. Don’t try anything over-the-top, dramatic, or flashy.
- Keep an open posture at all times; avoid crossing your arms or creating a symbolic barrier between you and the audience. Use hand gestures selectively for emphasis—do not gesture so much that your body language poses a distraction.
- Stop moving and pause briefly after making each important point. As I mentioned in a previous article, pauses can help you emphasize your message and gather your next thoughts. In addition, the audience gets a chance to absorb your point.
- When responding to a question, move closer to the person who asked the question.
Idea for Impact: When presenting, walk around the room naturally and interact with your audience. Moving around the room not only helps you keep eye contact with the audience, but also emphasizes an air of confidence, openness, and authority. You’ll also look more conversational, interesting, and memorable.