Polishing Performance Ep02: Spatial Mapping

Realize that motion draws attention. Your movements should be intentional and need to support the story you’re on stage to tell.


  • Movement Good - Pacing Bad

    Pacing around the stage will create a sense of discomfort for the audience.

  • Predictability

    Don't be predictable. The audience does not want to watch a robot on stage.

  • Intentional Movement

    Make your movement purposeful. Too much movement creates a distracting spectacle for the audience.

You are on your own best judge, so put yourself on camera and see if you like the way you move. Kymberlee

Kymberlee: One of the questions I get asked from speakers who are doing high-stakes talk is, "How do I work with the space? Do I map out the space? Do I do nothing? Do I just kind of stand up there and present myself and focus really on the content? How do I work with my environment?"

Alan Irwin: Sure. Environment's an interesting way of looking at this. You want to use the space that's available to you, for a couple of reasons. Movement draws attention, and so if you place part of your talk in the front and then over to the side and to the right, that's one way of keeping the audience's attention through your talk, but it's also a way of helping you memorize. I always, when I'm writing out my speech, think about where I want to stand for certain sections, so that I can always go there when I'm trying to remember what I'm talking about.

Kymberlee: I use that too, all the time. It helps so much. When I'm telling a story, one story I tell, there's a river always right here. Never changes. There's trees, always, right here. Never changes and so I can really feel really comfortable moving within this space on a large stage, I'm always telling that story, so it is so good for memory.

Alan Irwin: Oh, and that whole idea of creating an environment is fantastic when you're making a story presentation. It brings the audience in. They can actually see the elements you're speaking to, and then when you're talking and telling the story, you can move to those elements as telling it but one thing you want to be cautious of is becoming distracting. Constant repetitive motion is something that can make the audience nervous, so when I'm speaking, I'm going to go someplace and take a stand. I'm moving to get their attention but I'm not over-moving to make them nervous and that's always the dynamic with movement and using your stage.

Kymberlee: I think that can happen to a lot of us. If we're nervous, we may tend to wander. Sometimes you don't even know you're doing it, but you're wandering because you're trying to recall this next sentence, next paragraph. So what you want to do with your script is, know what you're talking about, go somewhere and plant. As you are planted in that space, deliver a couple of lines there, then move somewhere else. Have a destination, don't just randomly wander the stage.

Alan Irwin: Your movement should be deliberate.

Kymberlee: Yes.

Alan Irwin: So that's why pacing and those sorts of things are discouraged, because it doesn't feel deliberate. They feel your nervousness. The more you make deliberate movements, the more you bring in their attention, make them feel confident with what you're presenting, and makes you feel more confident with your presentation as well.

Kymberlee: Here's a tip: Don't be predictable. Whatever you do. A lot of speakers will say, "Okay, I need to move on stage, so I'm gonna come here, I'm gonna come here, I'm gonna come here. I'm gonna come here." Don't do that. You want to really work within the space. Maybe you're here, maybe you're here, you're back over here. You want to be unpredictable, because otherwise you're very robotic.

Alan Irwin: You're a machine, yeah.

Kymberlee: And that's not fun to watch.

Alan Irwin: Not at all. Again, that dynamic. Predictable, but really it's too much movement is distracting. Deliberate movement can bring somebody's attention to you.

Kymberlee: Try out those different pieces of tips that we've told you and put yourself on camera. You are on your own best judge, so put yourself on camera and see if you like the way you move. You'll pick up a lot of stuff that way.

Alan Irwin: Absolutely.

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