There’s nothing better from the audience’s point of view than a presenter who is really on top of their game. It makes it much easier for them to learn, to understand and to participate. In this section we’ll look at a few (semi-random) tools and techniques of stagecraft that don’t fit sensibly in other places.
We’ve already mentioned that movement can be counter-productive. To illustrate the point, watch this famously bad delivery of Phil Davison on YouTube. (You only need to get a few minutes in to get the idea!) There are lots of things to criticise but for now just concentrate on how much he moves… (although in his defence, the camera probably made it seem even worse than it was).
Tools to stop unnecessary movement
1. Spiking the floor
Movement at the right time can be useful, as we’ve said. But wandering around is distracting and undermines your credibility. A technique we’ve used very successfully is this (taken from our days working in theatres, where it’s known as ‘spiking’).
In your rehearsal, take an entire run-through to look at where you should be standing. Then, when you know where you’re supposed to be, use some brightly coloured electricians tape to ‘spike’ (mark) the floor, so that you can see it out of the corner of your eye. Then, whenever you run through your presentation, you’ll find that it’s much (much!) easier to stand where you’re supposed to be.
As an alternative, we sometimes take a single square of old carpet tiles with us.
2. Holding a prop – and using your hands
One of the most common problems people present to us when we’re working one-to-one is the age old “what to do with my hands?”.
Our general response is:
- don’t worry about it
- do whatever you’d naturally do.
However, if you’re really bothered we recommend a prop. Not just any old prop, but something expensive and fragile. Once you’ve got that in your hand you become much more conscious of your hands’ movements and pull them in quite a bit, automatically.
enough to be able to do this without your brain going into meltdown.
Of course, not using your hands at all (or enough) can also undermine your ‘performance’.