Public speaking coaches are largely united on this point: move only for a reason. Don’t just pace back and forth like a caged tiger. Some feel that’s a captivating display of energy. It’s actually an irritant that will distract people from your message.
When you move, then, have a purpose in mind. Here are a few good ones:
- You’re about to make a point. Take a couple of steps toward the audience to get their attention and signal that something’s coming.
- You’ve made your point. Take a step or two back to signal that the point’s been made and you’re about to change gears.
- You’re transitioning. Take a step or two to the side so your physical position signals a change in your talk. This is a great opportunity to address a new segment of the audience, too.
- You’re illustrating some action you are describing: “Slowly, I turned.” When words and action combine, they become more memorable.
Here are a couple of fine points:
- When you step to the side, lead with the foot closest to your destination. As a young speaker I failed to do that and looked so awkward people thought I was going to collapse.
- Don’t cross the slide projector’s beam on your way from here to there. Yeah, Steve Jobs crossed the beam, but he was Steve Jobs and could get away with it.
Here’s a final thought:
Don’t choreograph your moves. Be yourself. People want to see the real you. Your motion, when you are yourself, shows your confidence.