Step Away From the Podium

When you have the optiScreen Shot 2016-06-30 at 11.00.19 AMon, get out from behind the podium.

It’s not always possible to step away from a podium. If you are delivering a formal speech or hosting an awards ceremony, it may be your only option. However, when you have the option, get out from behind it.

Some may feel safe and secured behind a podium. The only thing this is doing is putting a barrier between you and the audience. It strips the power of emotion you can convey and the importance of the message you want to deliver. If it is your intention to move and inspire your audience, you don’t want to stand in one spot making your presentation feel like a lecture. The less they see of you, the less they can judge your body language and hence measure you believability.

You may not feel comfortable at first being open on stage as it can be a very vulnerable position. You are essentially inviting them into your world. However, because you are inviting them in, a natural state of trust will develop giving you a new character and a new sense of control over the room.

Once, a speaker began her talk from behind the podium, and then, after only a few minutes, stepped out from behind the podium and walked to the front of the stage. In this case, I found her approach very effective. She began in a safe position behind the podium, so as not to overwhelm her audience with her presence. She was able to garner trust by virtue of her voice, her demeanor, and her message. When she came out from behind the podium, it was like giving the audience a message that she now trusted us, that we were her friends, having intimate conversation. It was very powerful!

Again, if you don’t intend on giving a formal speech and if your credibility relies on the message you are presenting, step away from the podium! Being outside the confines of it provides you with a world of expressive freedom. The podium restricts your movements, your gestures and your ability to fully express yourself.

2 things you should do without the podium:

1) Use the real estate provided. Walk around and use the space given to you to engage the audience. Movement attracts attention. It stimulates our visual senses and people pay more attention to moving objects rather than those standing still.

2) Use your hands. The gestures you use can significantly change your intended message and will actually make your audience pay closer attention to what you are saying.

So, what’s the lesson? Use your discernment regarding the podium, but I encourage you to make every effort to step away from it. Open yourself up to your audience, so you can invite each other into your respective worlds.

Would you like more speaking tips? Try these 8 videos (They are all free).

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What is CSP?

The Certified Speaking Professional designation, established in 1980, is the speaking industry’s international measure of professional platform skill. The CSP designation is conferred by the National Speakers Association (NSA) only on those speakers who have earned it by meeting strict qualifying criteria. Only about 12% of the top professional speakers around the world hold this distinction.