Speech is a form of art. You will present your speech just like a dancer will perform or an actor will act.
Like all arts, public speaking doesn’t come naturally. Besides all the stage fright to overcome and the content to be developed, the physical component of how you will present also requires attention.
All the Stage for You to Present
Let’s call the area of the classroom where you’ll be giving your speech the stage. This area can be very tight, as behind a lectern or on a small podium. It can also be very large – from wall to wall. You’ll have to see what you’ve got to determine what your primary movements will be.
Do you stand in one place during the entire speech?
You can. There’s no rule that you have to move about. Watch this speech by Shonda Rhimes about her year of saying yes. She never moves from one spot. It doesn’t detract from her speech at all.
If you’re using notes, you might use a lectern where you can place them, but it creates a barrier between you and the audience. Sometimes that’s good – you can come across as an authority when you use a lectern. Other times, not so good, especially if you’re telling a story.
Using your entire stage is a good idea. It gives the audience some movement, which helps them pay attention to you. It helps you break up your speech into parts. Take a look at Alex Wu as he tells the story of a stopped-up toilet. Yes, the story is funny, but watch how he has set one place on the stage to be the toilet. The rest of the time he moves around the stage, helping the audience to understand the story by where he stands as he tells it.
Present with Your Body
Your whole body is part of the presentation.
Consider this: a speaker is talking about zombies. He stands completely still and spend ten minutes talking, and then leaves the stage. Or the speaker shambles onto the stage, with his arms limp at his side.
Which will the audience respond to more?
Michael Port is a world renowned public speaking teacher. Watch the first 10 minutes of this speech and see how he moves his hands and his whole body. Did you see how his motions weren’t just his hands in front of his body? He stretches out his arms, he moves forward and back with his message. His body’s movements amplify his message. You could turn off the sound and still want to watch him present.
Give Yourself a Hand
Knowing what to do with your hands – the struggle of every beginning speaker.
The best choice for your hands when you don’t have anything to do is to leave them hanging down on the side of your leg. That’s a very hard thing to learn to do. It feels unnatural because who ever leaves their hands down at their sides unless they’re in the armed forces at attention? But by learning to leave them in a neutral, non-distracting position, when your hands are in movement, it makes the movement seem more powerful.
Also, if you hands shake from stage fright, it’s less noticeable if they’re hanging down, away from your face.
Some people naturally talk with their hands.
I record podcasts while standing in front of my computer. No one can see me, but while I still move my hands to accent my points!
That’s the reason to use hand gestures. A good hand gesture gets your audience’s attention. A great hand gesture helps your audience to understand your point. Take a look at this video.
Brian Tracy is sitting down. Unless you’re a tv newscaster or a storyteller, you’re not likely to give a speech sitting down if you’re on stage. Watch Mr. Tracy’s hands in this short video, What do you think about his hand gestures?
If you’re just sticking your hands in your pockets or holding them together in front of your abdomen, you’re missing out on a great set of tools to reach out and connect with your audience.
When You Present
Think big when you present. Don’t think about how small you can make yourself or your speech. The purpose of a speech is to get a message out to other people – if you think small, how will they hear you?
Are you worried about being overly dramatic? Looking stupid in front of others? Don’t be. We can find ways to help you cut back, but not until you give us something to work with! Your presentation about yourself in your Ice Breaker speech needs to be as active as you can make it by using the full stage and using your body and hands to accent your story.
*Zombie GIF Source http://walker—bait.tumblr.com/post/40303899873