How to 'Stand' On a Stage

On you can already find many tips about public speaking. Today Kevin discusses with Lies Martens from Expert Academy how to stand on a stage, what to put on and how to cope with your inner stress by using your posture.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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On you can already find many tips about public speaking. Today I discuss with Lies Martens how to stand on a stage, what to put on and how to cope with your inner stress by using your posture.


Hi Lies, welcome to our studio.  


Hi Kevin. 


Today's topic is how to stand on a stage. But how do we stand on a stage? 


Well, it's very important if you have an event and you're the manager of a large company, for instance, and you have all the customers in the hall where you're having the event, and you're giving a speech, you're giving a presentation for instance, that you really understand that more than half of the impact you have on the audience is caused by your body language. Non-verbal communication. 


Not about what you're actually telling?  


No, from the 100% of the impact you have on the audience, it's only 7% that's linked to what you're saying. 55% is linked to your body language, 38% is voice, intonation, the words you use... So it's very important that you know when you're standing in front of an audience, how to do that. How to come across and how to deliver your message. 


And how do we do that?  


How do we do that? Well, I'm going to stand up of course. If you're standing on a stage, you really have to fill up the stage. It's a large place, but with your own person you can actually fill up that space. It starts with your feet actually. Not with your face, not with your hands, but it starts with your feet. If you put your feet together like this, then you don't have any stability. You're going to start wriggling and moving. What we need is stability. We have to get across a kind of confidence, and if you put your feet a little bit like this... Much more stable. Yes, it's purely physics. It's stability. Think of your legs as two trees that you actually plant in the earth. I'm not saying that you can't move on stage, but initially when you're starting your speech: plant them in the earth. Try to think of your body as a rectangle: your feet and your shoulders form that rectangle. And if you put your feet just underneath your shoulders, then that's the right position to start. 


It's shows more confidence like this.  


Absolutely, the credibility is augmented and the confidence grows. So you're actually quite stable and firm. Your shoulders: very important. When you're on a stage, delivering a speech, the level of stress is going to rise. Stress is very often going to put itself here in the neck and the shoulder area. So one small trick to get rid of all that stress and to put your shoulders in the right position, is to leave your hands next to your body and raise your shoulders as high as you can, and then let them drop. The stress is gone, your shoulders are in the right position and your head is in the right position. So we've got feet, shoulders, head... And then we've got these two swinging, slinging things that most people really don't know what to do about. I see people putting them in the pockets, behind their backs, fidgeting with clothes and stuff like that... 


Trying to hide their nerves?  


Trying to hide their nerves. Trying to do something with these hands. There's a lot of rules about what to do and what not to do, but there's one thing you have to remember: this is something you can never do on a stage, because this is creating a kind of border between yourself and the audience, and what you really want on that moment is to be as open as possible. So use your hands to reach out to the audience. I'm going to need your help now Kevin, would you please stand up? When you're standing up on a stage, between the two of us there's a distance. There's a physical distance but there's also a distance in the figure of speech, and you want to diminish that distance between yourself and the audience. So if I reach out with my hands and I'm talking about my business; how it started 50 years ago and what we're doing today, and try to do the same towards me. Then we're reaching each other and so there's no distance between the two of us. Thank you for your cooperation. Just to show that if you use your hands, not only will you come across more dynamically, more energetically, but also will you make the space between yourself and the audience smaller, so you will be closer to them, which is really the point. Some people try to do something with their hands by taking something in their hands like for instance a pen to write with... But you know what happens then: a clicking pen, you start clicking, you're nervous. It's very annoying. You can try to take a sheet of paper and put your notes on that sheet of paper, but never use a large sheet of paper in front of an audience, because when you're actually very nervous that sheet can start to tremble because your hands are trembling. So put some keywords, some key messages, on a small card and use that. It's much more efficient. Of course, if you're doing a presentation with slides or images and you have a Powerpoint presentation for instance, you don't have to stay in one place, you can move about. and then you also have a kind of remote control or pointer in your hand, so that also occupies yourself or one hand already. So it's very handy to do that. But if you walk during that presentation, make sure that your steps are deliberate or big enough. Don't start moving about on that stage. Don't go walking from left to right, because the audience will think they are watching a tennis game instead of a presentation. So with your hands, with your feet, make large deliberate slow movements. That's some tips and tricks to come across in a much and much more positive way when you're standing on a stage. 


And what about clothes? What do you put on? 


Clothes are very important. The main rule is actually to wear something you feel comfortable in. If you're not used to wearing a suit, then you're going to come across very formal on that occasion. 


Especially with a tie.  


With a tie, yes. But it's very important to remember that everything you're wearing is attracting attention. So what you don't want to do is that people are looking much more at your clothes and much less at what you're saying. So the attention should go to what you're saying. So if for instance you're wearing a bright red suit, everybody will watch the red suit. If you're a woman and you're wearing a quite short miniskirt, they're going to watch your legs, they're going to watch your skirt. They're not going to pay attention to what you're saying. So put something on that's comfortable, quite neutral, which is something that makes you feel good, but maybe festive of course, it is a festivity... But it's very important also to know that for instance when you are wearing a headset, a microphone like this, and there's this small transmitter you have to put in the back of your pants, that your suit is not all crumpled on the backside. So before you go onstage just ask somebody in your environment: "Do I look okay? Is everything good? Is my tie correct? Is my jacket good? Okay, then I can go". 


Okay Lies, thank you so much for all these tips.  


You're welcome. 


And you at home: thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week!