If you’re prone to nervous jiggling make a conscious effort to plant your feet and leave them there.
With so many things to think about up on stage, it can be easy to get lost in the words you’re saying and not think about how to present yourself as well as your content. Nerves can also play a big part, and even the most experience speakers get nervous with new material, high pressure events, or even just routinely.
A common pitfall for the nervous presenter is extreme pacing of the stage, or hopping from foot to foot. While it’s natural and useful to move around the stage in a deliberate way, repeated hopping back and forth can be a distraction for the audience. If the event is being recorded for video, it’s also a nightmare for the poor camera operator, who would rather be sleeping or browsing Twitter than constantly tracking you back and forth.
If you know you’re prone to nervous jiggling (I know I am!) make a conscious effort to plant your feet and leave them there. Think about where the best place to stand is, aim for it, get your feet in a comfortable position and leave them put. Especially at the start of a presentation if you can avoid getting into a routine of shifting about then it should set up well for the time you’re on stage.
If the stage is set up with a lectern, consider where you should stand in relation to it. Often the best place is just to one side so you can see your computer but so you aren’t hidden. Sometimes standing right behind a lectern leaves you popping out the top like Oscar the Grouch, which is never a strong look. It helps to visit the room beforehand to get an idea of the best place to stand.
When in doubt, get yourself planted in one spot and you can’t go far wrong. Once you’ve learned to stand calmly and not look like you’ve got ants in your pants, you can start to think of how you can move around the stage. But remember, big movements are pro-level stuff where you have to consider things like lighting, camera positions, potential for blocking your slides, and last but not least, the dreaded edge of the stage.
Advent speaker tips: this is part of a series of tips for public speakers that we’re posting throughout advent. Check back daily during December for more.