Public Speaking: How to Move Your Way into a Winning Performance

Business presentations are performances. Every business presentation you deliver is a piece of theatre, even if it exists exclusively in the business domain. The way in which you work the stage (or performance space) will contribute towards your presentation sales message and, crucially, whether or not it’s remembered.

Business Presentations & Movement

All movement, to some extent or other, will transmit a message to your audience. Do you have any nervous ticks? Being acutely conscious of the movements that you make on stage can help you to deliver better, more controlled and authoritative business presentations.

So, when it comes to movement, how much is too much? Well, the point is not to try and remain completely still — that would be wholly unnatural and distracting. Be aware, however, that people process information via visual, auditory or kinesthetic channels. All three channels are used all of the time, although a single channel tends to dominate.

Tapping your foot excessively or rocking backwards and forwards on the spot as you present can be incredibly distracting. Would you want your audience to miss your presentation sales message because they were too busy watching you fiddle with the pen in your hand?

Sending a consistent and integrated signal to the visual, auditory and kinesthetic channels will reduce the load on your audience’s working memory, increasing the chance of your message being remembered.

Supporting graphics (slides or flipchart notes) also form a big part of your overall message. You should be physically associated with them at critical points in your business presentation. Your movement should add value to the graphics and help you to vocally explain your presentation sales message.

When introducing a testimonial slide, for example, make sure you introduce the slide and break eye contact with your audience as you turn to study the quote — inviting them to do them same. Maintain silence while you read the slide yourself. Count to three, turn to re-engage your audience and carry on. The rule is simple: if you speak while they’re trying to read, working memory is overloaded and nothing will be remembered.

The more you integrate your movement on stage with the movement on your slides, the more persuasive your business presentation will be. Smooth, seamless integration demonstrates clearly that you know your material and you’ve respected your audience enough to practice. This adds to your authority and hence your ability to influence the audience.