Presentation Skills Tips: Use the Room

Don’t just stand there!

Many of us were trained way back in speech class that giving a talk meant standing behind a lectern (usually misidentified as a “podium”) and addressing your audience without ever moving.  If it weren’t for having to get up to the front of the room to speak you could practically do the whole thing without pants.

But standing behind a lectern can be way too static, boring, and overly formal for presentations today.  You hardly ever see anyone do that anymore.  Even politicians and preachers have moved away from this approach and have learned to move about the stage or even into the audience in order to better keep peoples’ attention on them.  Working the room helps keeps an audience entertained— and maybe a little bit on edge— if they think you might approach them or even ask them a question.  An audience that’s wondering what will happen next is an audience that’s engaged with your presentation.

Even better than your moving around the room, get them up and moving around if you’re doing a long presentation.  Have them form groups, consolidate a small audience so they’re closer to you and to each other at the front of them room, give them a physical activity to perform or just ask them to introduce themselves to someone else.  Anything you can do to get their blood flowing and shake them out of a presentation induced trance is a plus.

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