Public Speaking Growth Hack For Rising Stars

Last week we talked about public speaking skills from a novice or “Debut” standpoint. This week we’re taking on the comers. We’re talking about those people who have some public speaking experience under their belt and want to grow their skills. We’re talking, “Rising Stars.”

Once you have a bit of public speaking experience, you begin to learn what works and what doesn’t. Practice and preparedness work. Winging it doesn’t. Creating conversation with your audience works. Vomiting rote data, does not. For purposes of growth, we’re going to talk about the art of combining movement and message.

In the theatre, we call movement “blocking.” Every cross, every step, every stroll on the stage is blocked. It’s done with purpose. It’s done to clarify and illuminate the author’s words and move the drama forward. If you are the author and the words are your own, why wouldn’t you plan to move in a thoughtful and significant way?

We’ve all seen speakers who “duck hunt” across the space. They’re the ones who move to the left and then bing, they reverse and move to the right, and then bing, and then to the left and, well, you get it. Their movement has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with their message. In fact, it becomes distracting and detracting. There are also those speakers who seem afraid to move. They shuffle their feet from side-to-side seeming to do a dance to music only they can hear.

On your way to becoming a great public speaker, you must learn to move purposefully, without shuffling, tap dancing, leg shifting or duck hunting. Use the text (and the pauses in between words) to move, hold and engage with the audience. Asking a question is a good time to move thoughtfully. When you’ve hit a verbal point, that’s a great place to hold and face the audience directly. When you’re enumerating a list of items, move your carriage and your gaze to different parts of the audience for each item (assuming a short list of two or three). This allows you to physically and emotionally connect with them.

Again, you’re having a conversation. Your movement should look and feel less like a stage play and more like a natural extension of what you’re saying. Easy, relaxed and engaged are the keywords. It’s the iceberg paradigm. The world sees 1/9th of the iceberg above the water and the rest of it is submerged. It takes hard damn work and some serious rehearsal to make public speaking look easy. 

Do the work. Be thought, purposeful and prepared. With this in mind, you’ll grow into an “Award Winner!”


LB Adams is the Founder of Practical Dramatics headquartered in Charleston, SC.  Her company provides a wealth of soft skills training events that utilize theatre strategies to help humans grow more profitable conversations with other humans. To find out more about public speaking workshops & events, please reach out to us at 843-771-0753.