When you think about giving a presentation, do you imagine yourself delivering it while standing behind a podium? Get ready, because I’m about to ask you to consider doing something brave.
I want you to ditch the podium.
For many speakers a podium provides a feeling of security. A podium literally gives us something to lean on, and it’s comforting to put a barrier between us and an audience. We can hide behind it.
I get it. It’s scary to stand front and center. But here is why you need to feel the fear, and ditch the podium anyway…Going without it will force you to improve your presentation and delivery in several remarkable ways:
You’ll be less likely to read verbatim from a script. Instead, you’ll probably speak from a list of bullet points. This shift will do wonders for your audience’s enjoyment. By necessity, reading to them means that it’s tough to make eye contact, and eye contact is critical for establishing rapport and connection with an audience. In addition, speaking from a list of key words or concepts creates a more natural and sincere delivery.
You’ll avoid the “podium clutch” – a sure signal that you are nervous. You’ve probably seen this before, where the speaker grabs the podium, holds on for dear life and doesn’t let go. Most speakers don’t even realize they have been clutching the podium until they see themselves on tape after the fact.
You’ll pay more attention to your physical presence. I guarantee that you’ll stand taller, gesture in interesting ways, and perhaps move around a bit to keep the audience interested when you step out from behind the podium. In doing so, you automatically become more interesting to your audience.
I’ve been teaching public speaking for many years, and I have encountered a lot of resistance to this advice. I understand why. At first, it can be nerve wracking to give up the podium. If this sounds overwhelming to you, by all means, start slowly. Speak from behind the podium, but step out during the question and answer part of your presentation. You’ll see that standing out in front makes you more interesting, and you will make a stronger connection with your audience.
Ditch the podium in the new year, and let me know if it makes a positive difference for you. I bet it will!