How to Move around While Making a Speech

Learn how to move around a room or stage while you're making a speech from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking video.

How should you walk around during a speech? How should you move in your space?

Now, there is this old, conventional wisdom that a speaker is supposed to stand, feet planted shoulder width apart, don’t move. That’s a bunch of baloney. I’m a big believer that the more you walk, as long as it seems purposeful, the more comfortable, confident you’ll seem.

Now, you can stand in just one spot for the whole presentation. There’s nothing technically wrong with that. A lot of great speakers, presidents of countries, do stand in one spot, but there’s no reason you have to.

Because here’s the thing about moving. When you are speaking and moving, people are thinking, "Wow I couldn’t do that. I’d be afraid to leave my notes." When you’re walking around giving a presentation you’re sending a signal to people, hey I’m not like the last boring ten speakers you saw who were all standing behind a lectern, holding their little notes, huddled next to their laptop. You exude confidence. You come across as more comfortable, more authoritative. And, you seem like you just know what you’re talking about, because you’re not standing behind a full speech and a full script.

Now, you very well may still be using notes, but if you’ve created notes the right way you can just glance at them occasionally and walk around. And it just exudes more comfort. Makes you look more relaxed. It also creates variety, because when you’re walking you’re forcing your audience to move their head. If their head is moving they’re less likely to fall asleep.

Now, here’s the other thing about walking, is anyone can do it. Anyone can walk and talk for the most part. Any five year old can walk and talk. But because most people are too afraid to do it, most people fear public speaking, therefore most people are afraid to walk around when they’re giving a speech. So when you do it, at the gut level your audience is thinking, "Wow, that person’s really confident. They must be a professional speaker." All you’re doing is walking and talking, something any five year old can do. So if you’re going to get credit for something, and it’s really easy, and you’ve been doing it since you were five, why not do it?

The key to walking is you don’t want to do something like this. If it’s too rhythmic and too consistent then it seems like I’m pacing, and then it seems like I’m nervous. The key to movement when you’re walking around giving a speech is it has to seem purposeful and it has to seem inconsistent. You can’t be going around in circles, and you can’t be going back and forth like a grandfather clock. You have to be walking around as if you’re just thinking, reflecting, sometimes to make a point, and stop, talk. Sometimes for a transition after you’ve finished a thought, walk a few feet.

It really is that simple. By walking and talking in your presentation you’ll come across as more confident, more powerful, more engaging, and much more professional.