Before you go on stage, look at the BIG picture

Compose your Speaking Space!

You look great for your speaking gig - hair, clothes, you even thought to polish your shoes. But that is not everything the audience will be seeing. When you speak you are part of an entire picture. The audience not only sees you, we see the space behind, above and to the side of you.

Help the audience to focus on your message by giving us a visual picture that is free from distractions and is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Is there sunshine coming through the window behind you? This annoys the audience and makes you look like a black silhouette? Is there a curtain in the background that is hanging crooked or opened asymmetrical? Are there banners advertising something that doesn't belong to your message? Are there remnants from the previous speaker which will remind us of the last speech and not the present speech? Is the space too cluttered? Clean it up. Is the space too large? Narrow the space by darkening the sides, for example.

I have heard excellent talks, BUT the stage picture was distracting and took away impact. For example, a speaker's face was covered by their open lap top and the microphone made an ugly diagonal line across their face because it wasn't properly adjusted.

TIP 1: See what the audience will see
Before the audience arrives, have someone who is approximately the same height as you, stand in the speaking space - sit down in the audience and see what the audience will see. Look at the entire speaking canvas, and not the few meters where you will be standing.

What supports you picture? What distracts from your picture?

TIP 2: Make the stage technician your temporary best friend
Share your observations and suggestions with the presenter and the tech people helping you. This is the time to turn on your charm and friendliness. At the same time, be insistent that the space corresponds to your needs. It is in everyone's interests that the audience has the best experience possible.

Without losing your attention for the little details like shining shoes and a smile, develop your awareness for the bigger picture.

When you stand up to speak, YOU want to stand out and not the huge bouquet of flowers next to you.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe." Albert Einstein

Remember you are just one part of your speaking universe, make it the part that stands out.

Dyane Neiman is the Moving Speaker: She helps business professionals at all levels, who want to enjoy speaking in public, in English. She always encourages speakers to look and listen to their speech from the audience's perspective. Get in touch at


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