Walk away from the lecturn…

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Here’s a public speaking technique that requires nerves of steel but that will give you a very big pay-off…

Have you ever seen a public speaker who is prepared to abandon the “safety” of his or her lectern? It is riveting!

I’ll never forget the time produced an event for a client of mine. I’d chosen the keynote speaker because I’d heard her interviewed on radio and she was both interesting and articulate. And when she spoke at our event, she exhibited both of these qualities. But she impressed me even more, when she launched her speech by walking directly into the audience.

Why does that work so well? A few reasons, I think…

  • It displays the speaker’s mastery of his/her material. People who walk into the audience doesn’t need to rely on notes — instead, they speak extemporaneously. (In our case this was additionally impressive because the group I work for is academic.)
  • It increases the attention and interest of the audience. It also encourages responses if you’re asking questions. (Furthermore, it prevents you from being labelled “aloof” — which is what can happen if you stay wedded to your lectern.)
  • It makes it easier for the speaker to make eye contact. This is because it brings the speaker closer to the audience (without notes!) From this proximity, what else can you do but look in the eyes of your audience? Eye contact helps you get your message across. It also allows you to sense boredom (in which case you can adjust your speech) or enthusiasm (which will pump you up.)

At the end of this presentation, our speaker earned a standing ovation. I’ve never before seen that occur in an academic setting.

She deserved it.

If you want to earn similar respect, consider walking away from the lectern the next time you’re asked to be a public speaker.


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