I usually agree with Tom Antion104 on his speaking points, and his blog has some great tips. But I have to disagree with his most recent post about moving while speaking105. While there are certainly times that speakers move too much, I think the error is more often that they move to little.It’s too simplistic to say “move” or “don’t move”. The issue is why you would move. Most speakers stand behind a lectern106 so they can be close to their notes or hide or have something to lean on. None of those reasons is a reason to stand in one place.A good reason to stand in one place is when you are being videotaped or broadcast. The inability of a cameraman to keep up or the moving backdrop in the 2D representation could very well be a distraction. But in a live audience, the human eye is incredibly good at weeding out the third dimension and keeping up. It’s far more likely that moving among your audience will engage them, cause them to pay attention, and INCREASE the likelihood the message gets heard and transferred.Can movement be overdone? Absolutely. But we should strive as speakers to engage the whole audience as much as possible, and standing still at the front of the room doesn’t do that. Contrasting two points calls for moving from one side (pro) to the other (con). Speaking about speeding up should cause an automatic reaction of your body to move fast to help make the point; it’s clear the opposite is true when the point is plodding, emphatic, or somber. Folks with energy (the reason Tom gives for movement) can make a great point by staying still; speakers with not as much energy can have a similar effect by gearing up the legs and including locomotion into their talk.One thing I can agree with in Tom’s post: videotaping yourself and watching it with a careful eye is one of the best techniques for improvement you can employ.
Move with purpose to engage your audience and support your message.
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The most prevalent types of bad movement are pacing and getting in the way of visual aids. Pacing quickly becomes a distraction as the audience begins counting your laps per minute to the detriment of receiving your message. If you use visual aids, great, don’t stand in front of them. Practice your movement so as not to interfere with the projection of images on the overhead. Generally pointless motion is not very likely to interfere with your message. Still, you should make a point of adding meaning to your movement to add meaning to your message.