A good speaker can be key to what makes an event memorable and a success. For some people, taking the stage, whether it’s the fifth time or the 50th time, feels as natural and instinctual as riding a bike. But for most people, presenting onstage for a room full of attendees is a daunting experience, especially if they’re relatively experienced.
Luckily, there are a few things all speakers can do, regardless of their experience level, to feel more comfortable presenting and take control of the stage.
Use the stage
Unless the speaker is standing behind a podium, or needs to stay in a specific area of the stage for lighting and sound purposes, there is no reason to spend the entirety of the presentation in one spot. In fact, it could be detrimental to the presentation.
Speakers should feel free to walk around the stage as they speak, pausing frequently when making an important point or sharing key messaging. Pauses automatically give added weight to the next remarks, punctuating the speaker’s point. When the speaker does start moving again, it indicates the transition to the audience and naturally shifts the energy.
Speaking of energy, moving around the stage naturally creates it, making the presentation automatically more engaging to the audience. Not to mention, it will likely feel more natural for the speaker and help give them somewhere to channel their nerves, without distracting the audience.
In order to make sure they’re heard and seen clearly as they move around the stage, the speaker should consult with the event production team during rehearsals or prior to the event. The production team will be able to identify any areas of the stage that should be avoided.
Make eye contact
Connecting with the audience is the key to being a great speaker, and the easiest way to connect is to make eye contact with them, throughout the presentation.
Each time the speaker pauses, they should aim to find a different audience member and look them directly in the eye, as though they are speaking only to that person. Although the speaker won’t be able to have these personal moments of connection which every audience member, the attendees will notice the genuine interactions, making the presentation feel more personal.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
In order to feel confident onstage, speakers should spend plenty of time getting ready. The first step is for the speaker to write their remarks, leaving plenty of time to review, edit, and even get feedback on the presentation from others.
After they are happy with the remarks, the speaker should practice their speech out loud, paying special attention to anything that feels clunky or unnatural when spoken, so that they can make adjustments.
Finally, speakers should practice in front of other people, as well. Not only with these people be able to provide feedback, it will help the speaker get more comfortable interacting with an audience.
Use visuals to enhance presentation
Event visuals are meant to enhance a presentation – not replace it. Bright, bold images and graphics with limited text are strongly preferred to large walls of text on screen. Using too much text in a presentation will lead to the audience reading the visuals, rather than listening to the speaker.
Event techs are there to help
Event technicians and members of the production team are there to help speakers succeed – and working with them will make speakers more effective and confident on the stage. Speakers should always take advantage of rehearsal time to ask for any advice, such as specific places they should stand or look, if the presentation is reading well from different areas of the room, or any advice they have to make the presentation or delivery more engaging.
Garry Hale is president of AVentPro. As a live event professional with over 30 years of experience, Garry has had the opportunity to work with both amazing clients and production teams across Canada. His passion for events and commitment to his clients allows him to effectively serve as an extension of their team throughout the entire event lifecycle.